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How long are you willing to wait for a web page to load on your mobile phone? A recent trip to Singapore made this writer realise how smartphones are meant to be used – quick, efficient, and definitely minimal lag time. Coming back to Australia, I find myself staring at my phone’s screen… my frustration growing with each second. Another five seconds and I’m hitting the ‘Back’ button, looking for a quicker site.
And I am clearly not alone. A mobile web survey conducted by Modapt, Inc., a technology company and Morrissey & Company, a communications firm found that 86% of mobile web users thought that their mobile browsing experience were either ‘okay’ or ‘frustrating’.
More than 40% also cited difficulties in navigating websites being the most challenging aspect of mobile web browsing.
Mark Lederhos, CEO of Modapt advises that executing an effective mobile web experience for consumers means more than a mere migration from desktop to mobile. Speaking to Marketing, Lederhos says: “The mobile web is as much about understanding behavior as it is about ensuring it styles correctly on the handset. Taking a website and purely applying mobile styling or using automated migration and conversion tools creates a crowded mass of navigation and information overload. A mobile web consumer expects information to be more targeted and restructured to suit the small form factor; in other words, snack on the mobile and feast on the desktop.”
Lederhos advices that it is also crucial to understand what consumers expect when browsing on the move.
“Take a look at a great example of mobilization with Jeanswest in Australia: they have live linked data between desktop and mobile web yet the content is restructured, forms simplified and only core information presented in a summary fashion. This is a great balance between replicating the desktop web and presenting a site that has considered the consumer’s usage patterns.”
“The mobile web is a unique medium and needs to be treated with its own set of rules and guidelines. Simply “squashing” a desktop website into a mobile layout like many “tick the box” styling tools will in fact alienate a consumer faster than anything else. Consider the mobile in isolation and look at how the consumer embraces the medium. Brands have the ability to take a consumer on a more controlled journey through a mobile web property rather than presenting them with a canvas of confusing navigations and a multimedia rich showcase of colour and sound as with the desktop. Instead, you can feed highly targeted snacks of information and guide the consumer through a more structured and managed experience.”
Lederhos also suggests that brands take advantage of the unique abilities of mobile, such as location-based facilities, social network integration and the greater willingness of mobile web users to fill out forms and answer questions than when on the desktop.
“Users will continue to interact with a website that delivers highly targeted and clear messages and “feeds” them progressively through their visit to the web property. One very important thing to remember about mobile web: it’s a single task medium. Reflect on desktop use by the typical consumer; watching TV or listening to music, maybe 3-8 browsing windows open, reviewing email and maybe typing up a work document. There is a lot going on in the consumer’s mind, so to catch their attention websites use highly bloated multimedia “productions” to connect with a user. However, if someone is using the mobile web then it is very unlikely they are doing much else. So you have pretty much a captive mind open to effective communications. This comes back to presenting data in an effective and targeted manner so as to not overwhelm.”
On the question on whether all brands need to consider going mobile, Lederhos believes that its about the target market and the role the web plays in their company.
“If the website or the mobile is part of a company’s processes and performs a role in the operation of the business, then mobilization is key. Remember, it’s been quoted many times by many analysts that over 90% of private email is now read on the mobile. So if a company uses email-based marketing for customer acquisition or communications, then clicks through to web pages must be mobilized.
“Even where a website performs no more than a “online brochure” function, companies should consider creating a very truncated mobilized site with a landing “splash page” containing a click to call button (optionally changing by location of the consumer) and a map of how to find the local office or nearest store. For companies where sites are purely informational and change maybe once every 6 months, consumers hitting your site from mobile most likely are trying to find your number or your address. Still provide a drill down into more information but give them important stuff up front.”
Bearing in mind that many consumers in the Asia-Pacific region only have access to the internet on their mobiles, Lederhos suggests that if these consumers are an important target market, 2G still represents around 45% of consumers so mobile sites need to be highly optimised with engaging and targeted information.