There seem to be two types of companies: Those who get mobile, and those who don’t.
It’s often a function of cost: they’re investing in search, SEO, local listings and landing pages — and mobile is simply one more line item. If a visitor can already access a site on his or her mobile device, no matter how poorly, a mobile optimized site may be considered an inessential bell and whistle.
Oh, you think so?
Let’s Have a Frank Talk about Mobile Usability
Let’s put mobile aside for a minute. How many times in the past month have you been on your laptop or desktop and turned away from a website in frustration? Maybe the site didn’t make it easy for you to do what you wanted to do. Maybe there was too much text to read. Maybe there were too many steps between you and gratification. So you bounce, move on, find something better. We call that a usability fail. Sadly, many organizations don’t know how badly their websites fail in helping users perform even basic tasks.
Now let’s turn up the pressure. You’re on the bus. You’re using your smartphone to find a business, or book travel, or make a payment. If the task is effortless and you get it done before arriving at your stop, chances are you don’t think about why that process was so easy. You move on. But if that process is complicated — if the web form is too small, if you can’t read instructions, if the buttons are tiny and you keep hitting the wrong one… suddenly you hate your phone, you hate the bus, the other passengers, you hate your life… everything.
That, my friend, is the difference between good and bad usability.
That Ugly but Usable Mobile Page Trumps Your Pretty Web Page
You use your smartphone to do things that are immediate and time-sensitive. You call a cab, order pizza, find your local shoe repair — and you carry out these tasks while walking down the street or having a conversation. Not only are you being asked to master multiple interfaces (some mobile optimized, some not), you are doing this with a fraction of your full attention span.
On a mobile device, good usability is almost exclusively about ergonomics. Sure, some very usable mobile pages are kind of ugly. But if you can read and click without zooming, if you can click to call without taking a second look, if you can use your clumsiest digit to navigate a menu… then even an ugly mobile page has succeeded where a non-mobile page would fail.
Mobile Users: Engaged, Decisive, Preoccupied
According to a Google and Ipsos OTX study, 90 percent of all smartphone users have taken action as the result of a mobile search (a purchase, phone call, etc.). What’s more, 88 percent of smartphone users who are looking for information will take action within 24 hours of a mobile search.
So I ask you: If your marketing efforts succeed in bringing mobile visitors to your site, why would you force them to squint, zoom and fumble?
If a user is researching on his or her mobile, he or she is already juggling multiple real-world distractions and already looking for a fast solution. Please, please, make it easy for the user. Simplify your navigation. Ensure that you phone number is large and clickable. Make your top three calls-to-action big, bright and thumbable.
The sooner you can make your website transparently navigable for the distracted mobile user, the more revenue your site will generate. Oh, and the more that bus-riding, kid juggling, one-handed mobile searcher will like you… even if they can’t remember why.
Kirsten Weisenburger, Digital Strategic Planner