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3 Ways to Ensure Your Mobile Site Meets User Expectations


The rise of mobile computing has raised the bar for online businesses. It also poses new issues for every business owner. In developing a mobile app or site, or using responsive web design (RWD), there are an abundance of potential bottlenecks and performance issues. First, mobile networks are slower and more error prone because of high packet loss rates, noisy environments, frequently dropped connections, and high network latency. And second, mobile devices are slower and more limited than desktops in terms of CPU processing speed, caching, and form factors.

But the average mobile user doesn’t care about these challenges — they want a great experience regardless and will vote with their feet by going to a different site if they aren’t happy.  Here are three tips to make sure your mobile offering meets and exceeds expectations, and keeps users engaged.

1. Think mobile first
Whether you use RWD or a separate “m.” site deployment, today’s omni-device website consumer expects a consistent experience.  That includes comparable treatment of your content across devices. Knowing this, it’s a best practice to plan for the smallest viewports and lowest-powered devices first as you plan a redesign or new site. This approach will force you to fine tune your content placement, page organization, and message. Just like a poet uses strict language rules to force creativity, you’ll be forced to make hard decisions about what’s most important, and your site with gain clarity as a result. Then, as you design the experience for devices with more viewport real estate, you can amplify that message. Moreover, this approach forces you and your team to live in the mindset of the user, and better allows you to create an experience that meets and exceeds expectations.

2. Provide an option for full desktop site
Mobile devices generated nearly 24% of all web traffic in Q1 2013, and in the U.S. alone 25% of connected users rely on mobile devices. Still, 35% of mobile visitors prefer full websites because of mobile-specific usability problems. Even if you’re proud of your mobile solution, don’t let that cloud your judgement. The reality is users are stubborn and some will cling to what they know best, meaning your desktop format.  That’s why it’s almost always a good idea to include a clear link to the full desktop site. Giving your visitor every display option he or she might want encourages engagement and conversion.

3. Eliminate disruptions
The rise of mobile fragmentation (as in, the proliferation of different devices, operating systems, browsers, cell networks etc.) presents an ever-greater challenge to delivering reliability. Distruptions can result from browser incompatibility of content, an overwhelming number of assets (which increases the likelihood of packet loss interrupting the experience), and heavy assets, which may take so long to render across a slow network that the site errors out or the user bounces before they finish. To eliminate disruptions, take a holistic approach to optimization that includes paring down content, compressing and spriting images, concatenating files, and more. That way you can shave down the percentage of users that click on a link to your site and never make it to the page. It’s hard to know what that number is today, since Google Analytics can’t capture information until a user is on the page, but you may see traffic go up as a result.
For more on mobile optimization, see our blog post: 5 Steps to Better Mobile Performance In Time for the eCommerce Holiday Crush or our ebook below.

Photo via Flickr user that_chrysler_guy

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