The mobile web is different than the traditional Internet. And mobile users are different than . In order to establish a successful mobile web presence, businesses need to understand those differences.
Consider the mindset of a typical mobile web user. In addition to the demographic, or who that average user is, it is about where they are when accessing mobile sites as well as who they are with.
Mobile users have short attention spans. They are usually waiting in line and bored. Or sitting at a traffic light. On their way to or from work on the local bus or train. Expecting that user to focus on your website for longer than a minute or two is simply not realistic.
Address issues that people who are on the go are trying to solve. People on the go need directions. Want to look up the cost of an item. Compare prices in local stores. Locate a friend. Looking for a place to eat. Need quick specs on a job site. Trying to research retirement plan options while the HR people await their decision during orientation. Mobile users need quick solutions. Not reams of content.
Mobile users are trying to connect with others. That’s why mobile phones are popular. And why mobile social networking apps are popular. So, make it easy for mobile users to connect with your business via your mobile site using the inherent capabilities of the phone: its ability to call.
Mobile users are all thumbs, i.e., on the go data entry is cumbersome. Don’t fill your mobile website with complex, long forms to complete… or small text links to navigate. If you require them to complete a contact form, keep it short.
Mobile phones and tablets are not tiny laptop computers. Use their strengths on your website rather than emphasizing their weaknesses. Can you make use of their camera to have them click a picture and send it to you? Effectively use VOIP chat? Help them solve a location-based problem that brought them to your site to begin with?
Mobile device screens are small, so make the best use of that screen real estate. Is the awesome infographic or map (that look great on a computer but require extensive scrolling on a smartphone) really the best way to help them on your mobile site? Same thing for menus and extensive text. Keep it short and sweet, and limit the site to as few screens as possible.
When designing for mobile users, the most important thing to remember is that less is more. If your traditional website and your mobile site contain the identical content in a different format, it is time to rethink your mobile web strategy. Your mobile site should be a subset of the main website, focusing on those issues specific to the needs of a mobile user. Keep the customer testimonials and motivational messages to the traditional website.