If mobile devices were the size of this one, then for mobile marketers, life in some ways might be easier. But for now, I want you to take a good look at your fingers. What do you see? I’ll tell you what I see: the tips as well as the size of the tips are critical because your mobile website needs to work very well with these until inputs are all captured voice. Is your mobile website usable in relation to the size of most human fingertips? Are you testing this key point and other usability factors within your mobile website? Are you testing how many mistakes are made by users because links are too small and navigation tags are tiny in relation to the size of most fingertips? Do you even have a usable mobile website? If your goal is to provide location based utility or information (which is what all mobile marketers are trying to achieve) then you should get to work immediately if you want to accomodate the 137.5 million smartphone users currently in the US, as well as the 200 million smartphone users predicted by 2016.
This year is a critical one in terms of the convergence of users relying more on their mobile devices as their most important information and communications resource. With this climate change, it’s becoming obvious that laptops are starting to go the way of the desktop computer and fast, but let’s let data tell the story. In Q4, 2012, IDC reported that PC shipments totaled 89.8 million, down 6.4% from the same quarter last year. IDC had expected a decline in PC sales, though a smaller one at only 4.4%. Unfortunately for PC manufacturers, the trend is more severe than expected and the decline was the first time the industry experienced a year-on-year decline during the holiday season. IDC has also predicted that the computing industry’s growth over the next 7 years will be driven by these 3rd platform technologies. So now that we’re all awake, and a bit frightened, what do we do? It’s possible to build or improve a usable mobile website by following some simple conventions:
- IMPORTANT STUFF UP TOP: Display your most important info at the top of the page: the most important and frequently used tools by your users should be at the top of your site. If you don’t know what’s important, get the names of 10 to 20 of your best customers or users and talk to them about this.
- MAKE FINDING STUFF EASY: Make it easy for your users to find secondary information quickly. Provide them with several doors that open to the information or utility they seek (such as a navigable sitemap or a search box).
- SINGLE COLUMN FLOW: Use a single column layout as multiple columns are difficult to navigate on mobile devices.
- LESS NAVIGATION: Less navigation is better navigation. A mobile website needs to make it easy for users to find the most important information quickly. Remember, many of them are not seated or relaxing on a couch with a laptop on their stomach! They are on the go!
- PERFORMANCE: Make sure data loads quickly. Mobile users need info now, not after files from different ad networks, servers and API feeds have finally loaded.
- FINGERS: Design for fingers. Anything users are expected to tap should be at least 30 – 40 pixels in size. Also, put plenty of whitespace between tappable elements to avoid accidental clicking on the wrong links, tags or icons.
By following this advice you’ll improve much of your mobile experience, however if you want to be thoroughly optimized for all types of users and their needs, understand where, when and how they are using your mobile site and should the information on it have a relationship with any mobile apps you’ve published. Remember, give the fingers what they want.