Almost every working adult has a smartphone today. Children already receive one in primary school and the elderly increasingly take on a course to learn to master the smartphone. More than half of the consumers reach for the smartphone immediately after waking up – and that’s not only because of the alarm function.
While a laptop or a desktop PC is now more often used for online purchases, they slowly are losing ground to the smartphone. First in line are the so-called millennials, but you can be sure that the use of the mobile phone by your clients will also increase, at the expense of the PC. A mobile first strategy isn’t limited to the consumer market. Specific B2B target groups use their mobile phone more often than the PC. Think for example about sectors such as retail trade or construction.
Mobile phones have some obvious advantages: they are more personal than a PC, are equipped with camera’s and various sensors and are fit for services that are based on location. Users increasingly de-install apps on the smartphone and rarely install one. However, social media and messaging have grown into real killer apps. Of course there are also obvious disadvantages about smartphones, almost all of them relating to the size of the screen and the keyboard.
MOBILE FIRST IS ABOUT USER EXPERIENCE
A standard website is still the starting point for the development of most digital offers. First a skeleton design is drawn for the PC, after that one for mobile. That makes sense: designers work on very large screens and thus that’s their reality, their frame of reference. The design for a mobile phone is on first sight also more limited or even more basic. As a result, there are only a few sites really optimized for mobile use.
However, mobile first primarily is about the mobile user experience. According to EMAKERS, the most prominent initiative to improve this is probably AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is an open source initiative that among others is supported by Google. The aim of AMP is to (especially) make the web faster for various (mobile) platforms. Of course AMP is also a powerful answer to the competing Facebook Instant.
AMP + PWA
AMP was originally developed for (static) items. Because the speed of the web shop is one of the most determining conversion factors, AMP is for e-commerce a no brainer as well. eBay (for example) has been using AMP since 2016 and traditional web shops as well increasingly use the technology. It can be worth it to first experiment with pages that are often visited and load (relatively) slow. Product category pages, for example, usually contain many images. The amp-carousel could for example play a meaningful role for this type of page. This component allows you to place multiple products in a horizontal carousel. Of course the speed is at the expense of much sought-after functionality, making critics say that AMP and e-commerce don’t match. Think about chat, using forms, payment, analysis and various integrations. However, it’s not necessary to use AMP for the whole web shop.
AMP is even more powerful with PWA, or Progressive Web Apps. A PWA can, just like the traditional app, be added on the screen of the telephone, is available when offline but started through a web browser. Because the user downloads the app, it’s always up-to-date.
AN IMPROVED KEYBOARD EXPERIENCE
A mobile first approach is of course not solely based on AMP.
By now the small hamburger is generally adopted and now standard to show the menu on a mobile website or to close it again. Because it’s situated on the upper left, you have to move your thumb upwards, from the keyboard over the screen. The menu would be better situated on the lower left, which will increasingly happen in 2018.
Because errors are easily made by typing on a touch screen, there are serious gains to obtain by improving mobile forms. For example, a city name can often be already shown when a postal code is filled in. When a user has to fill in a number, you better make sure that the numerical keyboard is automatically shown. Because the screen is so small, you better show the form on full screen.
If you choose speed and usability as distinguishing factor for your mobile offer, than you could also choose for guided selling. By means of question and answer, you quickly guide the user to the right product.
MAXIMISE THE MOBILE EXPERIENCE
While the largest companies all have embraced mobile commerce, there are still many SMB’s that don’t even have a responsive site. This type of companies should place the redesign of their digital offer on top of their agenda for 2018. They will in all respects be less and less findable through Google, because the latter already announced that they will prioritize the mobile index. This means that indexed pages that are mobile friendly will be quicker enlisted in the search results of Google and will perform better than similar content that is not suited for the mobile phone.
In addition to messaging, e-mail is also a killer app on the mobile phone. More than half of the e-mails are already being read on a phone and e-mails that are not shown well on a mobile phone are deleted. There are several ways to give an interpretation to this. It often works to show only 1 column on the mobile phone. Texts are preferably short and to the point.
Many smartphone users are looking for something in the area. For example, they want to know where the nearest branch of a chain is, whether that store is open and if the searched product is in stock. If these functions are important for the target group, then you better immediately examine whether they also function well through the smartphone.
To conclude, a simple contact button (to call, e-mail or messaging) also works for mobile. It should actually always be incorporated in your main menu. Users expect to be able to choose ‘to call’, making your phone immediately call the right number. If you have to type the number yourself in the telephone app, that’s an extra treshold in the user experience.