Going mobile – web links this week

This week’s reading list is to do with making sure your sites are optimised for mobile. Why? Because this is where your customers are moving, a trend that will accelerate over the next few years. Half of the UK population now owns a smartphone, Morgan Stanley estimate that there will be 10 billion mobile devices in circulation worldwide by 2020, Apple sold 37 million iphones in quarter 4 last year, Samsung did almost the same for its smartphones, 27 million iPad and android tablets were sold in Q4.

More time is now spent by consumers on their mobile devices than they spend with print.

If you’ve looked at your analytics, you’ll have seen the increase in the number of site visits coming from mobile devices and you’ll be able to see the trend when you compare the current stats with Christmas 2010 or 2009. (If you haven’t looked at your mobile traffic stats do it now – really, now, this minute.)

Any app strategy that you have is one thing, but making sure that your ‘normal’ website is optimised for best viewing – and best interaction – on a mobile device is now essential.

Jeff Bruss of Cole Publishing in the US reports than 10% of traffic to his sites is now via mobile and that publishers need to make sure that their sites are mobile friendly.

“The mobile web requires information to load faster and be more readable, easier to navigate and more succinct. Can your desktop site be navigated through a smartphone browser with one thumb and one eyeball while walking down a street? Does content load in a large enough format to read without a pinch zoom? Does it load in less than three seconds?”

Some practical guidelines for doing this are spelled out on the Daily Egg blog. Mobile users tend to be more ‘action oriented’ than people on their desktops, so make actions easier. This includes simplifying navigation and removing duplicate menus, in fact, it should mean stripping back all the clutter that creeps into the ‘desktop’ version of your site. And a key point – reduce file sizes and image sizes so that the pages load more quickly.

These ideas are developed further for the specific aspects of improving the shopping process by UXmatters. This is important if you’re trying to sell anything on line. It’s all very well to make your site look good on a mobile device, but if the calls to action are lost and, especially, if the basket and checkout funnel are not built for mobile, then your conversions are going to seriously suffer.

It goes beyond making your site mobile friendly of course, as this piece from Media Briefing explains. With the estimated value of the mobile market at Christmas was £1.6bn and the expectation that by 2015 a quarter of all online purchases will be made via a mobile device, this really is something for which you have to have a strategy.

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