mobile web visitors have different expectations

The Mobile Web Isn’t The Web

Gee Ranasinha Communications 4 Comments

The world’s gone mad for mobile. It’s all about the mobile web.

Mobile devices – primarily smartphones and tablets – are set to become the dominant vehicles for accessing the internet. At the beginning of 2011, there were reckoned to be 500 million mobile internet users. Sony Ericsson predict that this figure will DOUBLE by the end of the year. Already today more than half of online users access the internet via their mobile devices. By 2013 more people will be accessing the internet from their mobile device than from their PC. Analysts such as Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley predicted all of this two years ago.

So, in order for your business to be visible on the mobile internet, you need to pull your finger out and have a mobile version of your current website up and running PDQ. Right?

Wrong.

Eh?

You don’t want a mobile version of your existing website. Just as you don’t want what amounts to little more than an HTML version of your brochure – which, if we’re honest, is what 99% of company websites were up until maybe five years ago (and, as well all know, many are still stuck there).

The mobile internet is a different internet

Yes, you absolutely need a mobile-optimized presence on the internet. But we’re talking about a very different internet to the one that’s presented to your desktop or laptop computer. The mobile web isn’t the desktop web, but smaller. If anything it’s the desktop web that should be considered as a bigger version of the mobile web. Let me explain.

Of course it’s one where screens are smaller than on your average PC. But it’s also one where screen size can differ between browsing devices to a far greater level – look at the difference in screen real estate between an iPhone and an iPad, for example. The simple act of turning a mobile device ninety degrees, from portrait to landscape orientation, increases browser real-estate by about 30%.

It’s one where you can’t use irrelevant and outdated proprietary technology such as Flash. It’s one where you don’t want to have high-resolution, print-optimized PDF files as web downloads. Where the use of images has to be reconsidered due to bandwidth issues (I don’t care if you’re running 3G, 4G, or 10G – accessing the internet on a mobile device is slower than from your desktop).

Web content needs to dynamically adapt to the device, so as to consistently deliver the best possible user experience. Talking of which: user experience itself totally changes in the world of the mobile internet. Content and context needs to be easier to use, to navigate (no keyboards or mice here, remember) and deliver the expected value – fast.

Think mobile web first, everything else afterwards.

A mobile website is not a smaller version of your existing website. The design is different, the navigation is different. Even the content is different – mobile users on your site don’t (and won’t) want to read your 2000-word blog post or white paper, for example.

Mobile visitors to your site have a different intent, and different expectations, to desktop visitors. If you’re a restaurant, for example, mobile visitors probably just want your phone number to make a reservation, see where you are on a map, or maybe take a look at the menu. They probably aren’t interested in the 47 image picture gallery of the dining room, or the movie video documentary of how your grandfather started the restaurant from the back of his pick-up truck in the middle of the desert.

Your website in the mobile world should be seen, considered and treated as something new. The mobile internet isn’t the ‘new’ internet: it’s something totally different altogether.

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

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After founding a successful media production firm, Gee became worldwide director of marketing for a European software company. As well as CEO of KEXINO he's an author, lecturer, husband, and father; and one hell of a nice bloke. He lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son. Find out more about Gee at kexino.com/gee-ranasinha.



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Comments 4

  1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

    I agree but I believe this is just a play on words.  Your mobile website should only have relevant content and not a duplication of your corporate site.

    My two cents! 

    @johnfoleyjr:disqus 

  2. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha
  3. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

    Mobile versions can be very annoying, and there should at least be an option to revert to the original version. I hate being forced to used a simplified website with less content.

    1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

      The mobile version of a site needs to be thought-out carefully from the user perspective. As you point-out, mobile sites where the content is too superficial when compared to the full version can frustrate visitors. It often feels as though companies that offer a mobile-optimised version of their site haven’t really given the content strategy and user experience much thought

      I think that much depends on the nature of the site, and visitor expectations. I would agree with you that having a link for the mobile user to bypass the mobile version and visit the full site is imperative.

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment.

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