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Brand Thinking Blog
Posted on September 1, 2011 at 1:52 pm
A world gone mobile.
By the end of 2011, 50% of all Americans will own a smartphone (Cisco). Not to be masters of the obvious, but in a world that’s increasingly mobile, smartphones are changing the ways in which we interact with technology. According to Morgan Stanley, by 2014, more people will access the Internet from mobile devices than from computers.
Why this matters to your marketing?
In Google’s 2011 The Mobile Movement study, they found that 24% of smartphone users are looking for business information, products or services through a search engine on their mobile phone. Nine out of ten smartphone searchers have taken action as a result of their search; 68% visited a business and more than half of smartphone searchers made a purchase.
Our own research of professional services buyers in 2010 (Digital Outlook 2010) reinforces the new reality:
Executive level buyers of professional services are online, in droves:
• 94% are online daily for purposes other than email
• 83% report the Internet has replaced other methods of researching completely
• 78% surveyed say they go online to search for outside legal, accounting and consulting professionals, but the majority (50%) do so less than once a month on average.
Firm websites matter more than ever:
• 85% of executives consider professional service websites important sources of information
• Three in four say the quality of a firm’s site influences whether they put a firm on their short list
• 53% have put a firm on a short list based on information found on the firm’s site, with
• 78% saying it is must-have information.
Against this backdrop of the importance of the web and the inexorable march to mobile, the problem is that, more than likely, your website isn’t optimized for viewing on a mobile device. Think about the bottom lines of an eye exam and you’ll get the picture.
How to go mobile.
We’ve seen a spike in requests to take our client site designs mobile. The process is neither terribly expensive nor terribly time-consuming, but you should get started right away. To get started, we advise our clients to follow these rules below, based on best practices from the Nielsen Norman Group Report, Usability of Mobile Websites. You can retain most of your elegant design on a mobile platform, just be smart about your smartphone design and the information you choose to feature.
1. Choose between a mobile site or an app. Apps must have a specific niche task that is typically repeatable. Mobile sites use data already in your website, but presented in a way that’s tailored to a user’s mobile device.
2. Which phone should we design for? Mobile sites should target smartphones and touch phones. Android is the most common mobile platform today, followed by the iPhone and Blackberry. Note: Corporate Counsel’s 2011 Survey of In-House Technology showed “the BlackBerry—isn’t quite as ubiquitous or invincible, as it used to be. New options, like iPhones and Android-based devices, are stealing a lot of the BlackBerry’s thunder.”
3. Mobile site design musts:
a. Get your site found.
i. Automatically redirect mobile users to your mobile site.
ii. Link from your full website to your mobile site.
iii. Include the word “mobile” in the title of your mobile site.
b. Include your logo on every page.
c. Cut the fat. Don’t include all the information featured on your website. Choose and feature content that matters most to visitors. It should take a user no more than three clicks to arrive at the page they are seeking. Lead with content carrying words and descriptive titles to avoid having users click on a link, only to discover that they are not interested in the topic. Write true and short summaries of articles instead of repeating the title or headline.
d. Offer search functionality, but not at the expense of valuable space used for relevant content. Make your search box wide enough so that users aren’t limited by space.
e. Use list-based navigation. Navigation should run the vertical length of your page instead of horizontally across, like your website. Avoid deep navigation and endless options (3 clicks rule!). If you’re using images for navigation, make sure you enable alt text in case the user has images disabled on their phone.
f. Make sure menus are labeled. A menu should look like a menu and provide clues to the content.
g. Avoid logins and registrations. This will deter users from visiting your site.
h. Leave space around buttons, links and menu items to accommodate fingers. Typically, 1 cm x 1 cm padding will do the trick.
i. If your content displays in a text-only list (i.e. practice areas, articles or bios), it is safe to display up to 100 items on a page. Alternatively, if your list contains small images (i.e. bio photos), it is safe to display up to 20 images per page.
j. When displaying content (i.e. news items), use links to related content (i.e. articles on the same topic).
k. Images must be relevant to your content. Instead of using images for decoration, images must be telling of your content. Images can slow down the load time of your mobile site, so image resizing may be necessary.
These, among other emerging best practices, are a smart place to start as you rethink your website on a smart phone platform. Again, if the challenge seems daunting, it shouldn’t be. It’s not as hard as it may seem on the surface to convert a sharp website for a world gone mobile.
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