Mobile sites are generally designed for the on-the-go user. With this user-type in mind, mobile sites can become overly paired down to just the basic details that a user might need, such as directions, a phone number, and social media links. Yes, a mobile user may most-likely be on-the-go, but I think the mobile audience is shifting. When I’m away from work, I use my phone as my primary method of surfing the web, meaning I’m not just using it on-the-go. It’s the main way I access the internet and I’m now expecting more than the most basic functionality from a mobile site.
Like most people with smartphones or other mobile devices, you can find me using mine everywhere. I’m on it while I’m at lunch, estate saleing on the weekends and definitely on the couch while “watching” TV. Since I’m using my phone as my second computer, I would hope that the mobile site would have the same functionality of a laptop or desktop, but optimized for my mobile device. A mobile site has to accommodate every user, if they are out and about, or just laying in bed before they turn off the lights.
Because of this common over simplification, I often find myself clicking on “view full site” taking me away from the mobile version of the page. I’ll get frustrated when information on a mobile site isn’t intuitive or if a site is so pared down that I can’t find the information I’m looking for. And once I move away from the site, the user experience deteriorates. I have to pinch and zoom to read any text or sit waiting for pages to load. The mobile site experience becomes a missed opportunity. A better experience causes increased engagement, more conversion and a good chance someone will walk away feeling positive about your company or product.
A mobile site should create a focused experience, not a limited experience. To do this:
1. Information needs to be highly prioritized. Present the content that will be most important to the user first. A mobile site should focus on prime information pages upfront, but let you dive deeper if needed. The content users interact with should be adjusted to suit the size of their site— the same information from the full site may need to be presented in a different order from the full site to make more sense for the mobile user.
2. Navigation should be simplified, minimizing the user options. The navigation needs to be clear and intuitive to the user so they can find exactly what they are looking for. If needed, pages should include sub navigation so the user can still access any meaty details.
3. Your site should be touch-friendly. Buttons or links need to be large and easy to hit with a thumb or finger tip, based off of standard finger sizes (Apple suggests 44 pixels) Not only should it be click-able, but it should be in an area it can be easily clicked—buttons shouldn’t be placed too closely together, or you risk taking the user to the wrong link.
4. Images should be limited. Reduce the number of images to limit loading times.
The ultimate goal in having a mobile is to create a platform that is adapted to a device’s size, but mainly to what the user needs. We need to think about what mobile users want when visiting a mobile site, if it is to get things quickly on-the-go, or if they are using it as their main computer. A mobile site should not be limiting, but focused to give the user a valuable and positive experience that keeps them coming back for more.