Mobile strategy for 2016
This blog post is the second in the series that explores different aspects of developing a digital strategy for 2016, one that lays the foundations for long-term sustained growth. The series is:
- Understanding users and their interactions explores how to update your understanding of users and how to instrument better analytics.
- Mobile strategy is the topic we explore below.
- Content distribution channels explores new, emerging, and re-emerging content distribution and user interaction channels.
As we approach 2016, it is no longer enough to have a "mobile-friendly" website, it is not necessarily the right business decision to build a native app, and there are upcoming changes that could offer just the boost you need to win on mobile next year and going forward.
Fix the biggest mistake about mobile
Instead of treating mobile as a homogeneous and well-defined group of customers, you need to break up mobile traffic based on information needs and tasks users want to satisfy or complete. Treat mobile as a set of technologies to serve your different customers and their different needs in their different contexts.
Notice we said a set of technologies, not a single channel or one technology. You will see why as we go along.
In the previous blog post in this series, we talked about user understanding and analytics as the foundations upon which you will build all changes. So which changes do you need to consider for mobile in 2016? We suggest the following as a good mix of technical and business strategic moves.
Website loading performance
Experience and a quick search will quickly tell you that most mobile-"friendly" sites are very slow to load, taking several seconds to get to a usable state. This kills the user experience and conversions, whether you are an ecommerce site, or a publisher optimizing for user engagement and ad monetization (see the many case studies here).
There are technical and business aspects to speeding up page load times:
Business: It's common for a page to include several analytics, ad, social media, and other first- and third-party content. Each one, ostensibly, has a good reason to be included on the page, but collectively the page becomes bloated and slow.
For 2016, audit how your pages actually load, and what content they include, with the aim of reducing the perceived load time to within 1-2 seconds (the lower the better of course). Notice the emphasis on perception: Way back in 1993, Jakob Nielsen published research on how humans perceive speed. The limits he found back then hold true today, and are doubly important on mobile.
The problem that commonly arises from such a content audit is that it may be hard to remove any given tag, especially ad and analytics tags; after all, there was a good business reason when each was added. However going forward, the inclusion of each tag needs to be justified as it has a measurable effect on business metrics like conversions. Analyze the data in your existing analytics, and set up A/B experiments to assess the impact each tag has on your metrics, with the aim to remove as many as possible.
Fix your forms
Although filling out forms is essential for most online transactions, form filling on mobile is painful. Luckily, browsers lend a helping hand to make this activity frictionless. Although this appears to be a purely technical optimization, it is not that simple:
Technical: Make sure each input field uses the optimal input type (e.g. email instead of just text). This usually triggers a different keyboard on mobile devices to aid data input, and can also trigger autofill of the form if the user enables this feature in their browser.
Start with the HTML spec for implementation.
Business: No technical improvement can beat shortening or entirely removing a form. This means you need to re-assess the business need for each form, and the need for each input field in the form. If the data is essential for the business or for delivering your product or service, consider other means to get this data that does not involve user input.
While you review your forms, assess and fix any accessibility issues. That is not only the right thing to do, it, unsurprisingly, also has a positive effect on revenue.
Consider new distribution channels
In addition to what is currently available, several new digital content distribution channels have become available recently, and more will be generally available in 2016. We detail those in a separate blog post.
Don’t forget desktops
Finally, with mobile soon to be dominant for every site, the advice for 2016 is that websites should also be desktop-friendly. We will soon be in a world that is exactly where we were a few years ago, where users with one class of device got a worse experience. Back then it was mobiles, soon it will be desktops. The advice from back then continues to hold: do not leave these users behind.
Get professional help
We have great expertise in mobile. Please contact us if you need any help.
Continue reading the series
- Understanding users and their interactions.
- Mobile strategy was this post.
- Content distribution channels.
Image source: Mobile mobile, by James Theophane.