Your website has probably been a major project for your company for the last ten years or more. It has changed with the times and morphed into something that hopefully is one of your company’s strongest assets. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could push a pause button and just let your site cruise for a while? Constant improvements and endless renovations are expensive and you probably wish there was a way you could reduce the cost of website improvements. Unfortunately, this post isn’t going to be good news to anyone looking to save money. Taking advantage of the latest technology is expensive, but it’s worth it. Today I am going to get you thinking about your site in the context of a gadget that promises to redefine (if not destroy) our preconceptions about what a website is. That gadget is the phone.

Here is an amazing statistic: In 2011 more people will purchase smart phones than computers. Web traffic from mobile devices probably makes up a small portion of your site’s traffic today, but that number is going to go up dramatically in the coming years. You may be thinking that it shouldn’t be too hard to just reskin your current site in a format that fits on the smaller screen. It isn’t. The problem isn’t a matter of resizing. The problem is that a person visiting your site from a phone is a completely different kind of user than the people visiting your site from a standard computer. Here are some things that reveal why the “just resize it” solution is such a terrible mistake.

1. Phone users know what they are looking for.
Think about your own phone habits. If you are like most people, when you access a website from your phone you aren’t just surfing. You typically have a goal. Maybe you are looking for an address. Maybe you are checking a price. Maybe you are looking for a discount. Chances are your current site isn’t optimized to deliver this kind of information as easily as the phone visitors would like. Simply resizing your current site won’t help. You need to create a web experience that aligns with the needs of the phone users.

2. Phone users are more ready to make a purchase.
A person visiting your site from their home might be ready to make a purchase. But compared to the person at the store looking up your site as they compare products on the shelf is a much hotter lead. Is the mobile version of your site prepared to convince the shopper to put down your competitors product and stick your’s in their cart?

3. Phone users have slower connections and smaller screens.
The size of the phone is small. Navigation is made with big fingers not a precise mouse. It takes longer to load a web page on a phone than it does to load from a home computer. Simply resizing your site for a smaller screen does nothing to address the unique demands of the mobile devices.

4. Phone users are looking for a way to engage with your brand.
Someone that makes the effort to visit your site from a phone is requesting a connection to your brand in a way that is much deeper. If you can reward the people who visit your site from a phone you can greatly increase their loyalty to your brand. Coupons, rewards programs, badges, and memorable experiences are things that can lift your site above the typical experience.

5. Phone users are impatient.
You don’t have a person’s complete attention when they are accessing your site from a phone. Chances are these people are on the go and don’t have time to read paragraphs of copywriting. An online version of your “corporate brochure” is even more absurd on a phone because that’s not what your users want. You can annoy phone users if you talk too much, talk in jargon, or fail to get to the point.

6. Phone users are reading more.
This may seem like a contradiction to number 5 but this is where things get interesting. More and more the phone is getting used as a reading device. The popularity of Kindle and various reading apps for phones have created a new “long format” kind of user. This type of person is actively looking for high quality text that is worthy of spending more time with. Does your current site have any content that someone would gladly add to their “must-read” list?

7. Phone users use apps.
The rise of apps has created an interesting opportunity for businesses. Your site might work well in combination with an app. The possibilities of apps go far beyond the uses of standard web pages because they can tie into functions like cameras, gps, music players, and almost anything you can imagine.

8. Phone users get text messages.
Text messaging is something that can be a fantastic marketing tool for your business or it could be a huge mistake. A carefully planned sms campaign can be very beneficial and may be something to consider implementing in your mobile site.

9. Phone users are social.
Some of the most popular uses of smart phones are social services like Twitter and Facebook. People use these services more regularly than they browse the internet through their mobile browsers. If you can take advantage of these sites or integrate these services into your mobile site you might be able to get a substantial boost.

10. Phone users talk about their phones.
Few devices have generated as much buzz and excitement as mobile phones. People love to talk about their phones and share advice and recommendations with friends. If you create something noteworthy with your site it has the potential to really spread with people. Combine that with the almost limitless possibilities of what these gadgets can do and you have a real opportunity to create something remarkable that people will talk about.

As I said earlier, this isn’t good news for people looking to save money. Mobile sites can be expensive and require a whole new approach to your online presence. It’s a new challenge, but if it is done correctly it will surely pay off. If you are ready to explore the possibilities that the mobile landscape presents, give us a call.

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