The majority of businesses out there understand that their customers are likely accessing their site through a variety of devices, which is why they have put a mobile plan in place. After all, as of 2015, statistics show that 75% of adults in the United States access internet sites via mobile. So optimizing your site for mobile means meeting your customers’ needs and creating a truly customer-centered experience; not to mention being able to benefit from personalized marketing that really engages with your customers. However, being optimized for mobile isn’t as straight forward as one may think. There are various strategies like mobile first, mobile optimized, or mobile only, and it can leave business owners feeling a little mobile confused. So when you are trying to use mobile effectively to reach your customers, what strategy should you implement? For the sake of clarity, we will outline the basics of each strategy so that they are a little easier to understand.
A mobile first approach is exactly what it sounds like – websites designed first with mobile in mind. Normally the process has always been to design a website for desktop and then make it mobile compatible, but the mobile first approach turns this method around. It includes some basic mobile first design principles which ensure that the website has the highest possible mobile performance and functionality, and then considers desktop design afterwards.
Not every site wants to design a completely new mobile website, so the other option is to implement responsive design into their established desktop website, which allows the site to adapt to different screen sizes – from desktop to mobile screens. This means that the website should adjust to suit the visual dynamics and functions of the device; for example, larger buttons on mobile version and scaled back code and images, perhaps even a shift from horizontal to vertical navigation. The concept here is really that the desktop site functions across all devices as the specs change to suit each platform.
This is a slightly more extreme option, which is to design a site that is only for mobile. The top two options are web design methods that assume that mobile is merely a part of the customer’s journey – meaning that they will switch between devices and should be given the same high-quality experience on all devices. Mobile only however, is focused on giving users a complete experience from start to finish on the mobile device alone, and assumes that customers will not be switching devices. Although to some this may seem limited, the reality is that the majority of people are using mobile primarily and are not switching between devices within a single visit. In fact, according to UX Magazine, in the U.S. alone, 25% of mobile web users are mobile only users. And that is just in the U.S., the numbers go up from there throughout the rest of the world, particularly in developing countries. The truth is that most people who do switch devices usually do so because the mobile experience wasn’t good enough to complete the goals of their visit. In general, it is much easier to stick to one device than to hop between devices. And since the majority of searches begin on mobile anyway, as Google reported back in 2015, the chances are that your customers are most likely coming to your site via mobile and will also complete the goal of their visit on the same device if you offer them a good experience.
In the end, as mobile search continues to rise, it is safe to assume that for some of your customers, their only experience with your brand will be a mobile experience. The Mobile User Experience then, is too important to ignore. Whichever mobile method you choose, one thing that is clear is that in order to avoid creating a frustrating mobile experience leading to customers abandoning your site, you have to prioritize mobile in your website design and marketing methods. A customer-first design approach is a mobile one.