Mobile Websites: Strategy Plus Tactics Equal Success

This is an article I wrote for the Five Q blog. Enjoy!

With the rise of mobile devices–laptops, tablets, and smart phones–having a clear mobile strategy is a must. If “strategy” is doing the right things, and tactics are “doing things right”, then there are multiple things to consider when creating a mobile strategy.

Data Analysis

Good decisions are made with good data. Reviewing your mobile trends in your web analytics tool will help you see trends as well as learn more about your mobile audience.

Key items to review in your analytics for mobile:

  • Mobile traffic on your website
  • Mobile devices used: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, etc.
  • Mobile browser usage
  • Top entry pages
  • Top exit pages
  • Bounce rate and more

Having a good understanding of how mobile users are accessing and viewing your web content will help you better set the direction for your goals and metrics.

Goals and Metrics

All good strategies begin by identifying your key goals for building and delivering your mobile brand. Some examples could include:

  • Expanding your reach
  • Increasing sales/donations
  • Usability for mobile users
  • New market outreach

Once your goals are established, then you can set your clear and concrete metrics for success. Some metrics for success could include:

  • 50% increase in page views for the website
  • 100% increase in time on website site
  • 25% increase in donations
  • 20% increase in contact form inquiries
  • Adding 1,000 new Twitter followers
  • Increase to 5,000 new Facebook fans

Remember that your goals and metrics should be grounded in data as well as flexible enough to adjust to keep pace with the activity your users are experiencing on their mobile devices.

Best Practices

Now that your goals and metrics have been established, you can consider some best practices in developing your comprehensive mobile strategy:

  • Mobile Visitor Goals and Mobile Surfing:
    • Visitor’s goals will be different when visiting the mobile website than when visiting the desktop website.
    • A Nielsen study from May 2010 showed that Americans spend the bulk of their time on their mobile phones checking email, visiting social networks, and reading the news.
    • Mobile users will often be interacting with mobile websites in 5-7 minute chunks of time.
    • Therefore, they will have less time and desire to read content.
  • Mobile Content:
    • The best mobile websites do not simply make the original website viewable in a mobile browser, but restructure the website to meet the needs and goals of the mobile user.
    • Content blocks need to be shorter than they are on the desktop version of a website.
    • Navigation needs to be limited to meet the immediate information needs of mobile users and should be action oriented.
  • Mobile Donations:
    • Making a donation may not be the first thing a mobile user thinks to do, but if the timing and ask are appropriate to the channel, increasing donations via mobile is an attainable goal.
    • For text message donations, you are limited to $5 or $10 per gift.
      • This may not be strategically aligned with your ministry/organization’s objectives to further develop donors who are able to give more or those who would be willing to donate more if approached properly.
      • The dollar limit may likely cause someone who would be willing to donate a larger amount to settle for donating $5 or $10 since it is the path of least resistance.
    • If using a donation form, make it as easy to use as possible, including pre-populating it with the visitor’s information when they access the link from email on their mobile device.

Responsive Design & Progressive Enhancement

A trending discussion about mobile design revolves around Responsive Design and Progressive Enhancement.

Responsive Design allows your site to be designed to perfectly fit a specific platform/environment–smart phone, tablet, or desktop–with a single design. Through specific adjustments to the website code and style sheets, the design scales and responds accordingly per the device. Here is additional information about responsible web design and its adaptations for mobile.

Progressive Enhancement, on the other hand, “is a way of designing web pages so that the more features a user agent supports, the more features the web page will have. It is the opposite of the design strategy graceful degradation that builds pages for the most modern browsers first and then converts them to work with less functional browsers.” (About.com) A how-to guide for progressive enhancement is provided by Webdesigner Depot.

Knowing that the design is also part of the user experience is something to consider when crafting your mobile strategy.

Deliverables for Your Mobile Strategy

Keeping the goals, metrics, data, and best practices in mind when developing your mobile strategy will lead to success. You will also want to include in your strategy:

  • Audience Analysis: clear definitions of your mobile users, trends for different demographics, and usage patterns
  • Mobile Sitemap: defining the core website navigation and pages for your mobile offering.
  • Mobile Wireframes: taking into careful consideration that your mobile audience will interact with your mobile website differently than on a desktop, establishing a clear information architecture for mobile will be key to ensuring no gaps exist in the user experience.
  • Mobile Design: with the information design complete, you can elevate your wireframes to life through your mobile design.

Be sure to work closely with your web team to ensure that your goals and metrics are clearly being met throughout the mobile production process. As technology continues to evolve, you want to be sure that your mobile strategic efforts grow with your brand.

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