mobile solutions

7 mistakes companies make when going mobile

The following is a guest post by Scott Hague, founder and director of Integrated Change, a mobile development agency. You can find Scott on LinkedIn

Going mobile isn’t just a tick in the box or ‘bolt on’ to an existing website. It should be treated with care and attention and it should have SMART objectives and a separate strategy. All too often however, we come across companies who just see their mobile site or the exploring of a mobile presence as an extension to their desktop site.

Whilst responsive design by its very nature is to ‘respond’ to the mobile user agent and scale accordingly, it doesn’t mean that as it does, we should forget about anything else.

Without properly planning and understanding the very reason you are going mobile, companies can get the transition wrong. In this article, we will explain the 7 key mistakes companies make when going mobile whilst offering a few tips to avoid them.

1. Not understanding the problem

Mobile agency: So you have decided to take advantage of the mobile opportunity? That’s good news. So what problem does this solve?

The client:  Well, we aren’t mobile at the moment so that’s the problem solved.

Mobile agency: Mmm, not quite…

Making the decision to go mobile is just the very first step but what was the problem that brought you to this conclusion? Going mobile won’t fix issues unless you know what they are and in some cases, these problems are sitewide across desktop as well. It’s always good to start off with analysing why you are going mobile and what this may solve.

As an example, I ordered a part for my leaking shower only a few weeks ago. I found the part by searching on my phone. The website was mobile optimised – that was good. I decided to order the part at which point it all went wrong. The payment gateway for entering my card details was not mobile friendly and sent me to their desktop version of the site. This become utterly frustrating to use and after trying once I abandoned the transaction.

What I am trying to get at here is that just because you have gone mobile, it may not solve the exact problem. In the example above, the particular company had made the switch to go mobile but hadn’t analysed the full user journey to get to a specific problem.

Spend time analysing what problem you are trying to address or what experience you wish to improve.

2. No emphasis on context

Mobile device choice is heavily driven by context. Which devices we use are dependant on some very basic factors such as how busy we are, where we are located at the given time, our attitude and what we want to achieve. This all makes perfect sense, right?

According to research from Google/Nielsen, 81% of mobile searches are driven by speed and convenience.

Naturally it’s easier to just pick up your phone and start searching the Internet. After all, it’s probably in your pocket or in your hand reading this post!

Be sure though that when that user lands on your website you have understood the context to which they have arrived at your site. Ensure the landing pages are mobile optimised and relevant to the search term. In essence, your calls to action and content will need to be aligned to this, which brings me nicely onto my next point.

3. We sort of know our customer

customer iconBefore I start on this point, it is absolutely imperative that you understand and know your customer. I recently delivered a presentation to a room full of business leaders and asked how many of them actively profiled their customers. The response was less then 2%. That could be an unusual circumstance but if you don’t fully understand the customer’s goals and objectives then how can you meet their mobile requirements?

So, if you haven’t already, we suggest going back to basics and building your customer profile or ideal target customer profile. As somebody who has spent the last 16 years in a commercial digital role, the very basics of market segmentation and targeted customer profiling is often overlooked. Actually it should be one of the key drivers.

Getting to know your digital visitor is vital. Validating your market will help to reinforce these profiles while an honest competitor scoring matrix will reveal your position against your rivals.

This also presents an opportune time to dust off any old SWOT and PEST analyses and start afresh.

Spending quality time building the customer profile and validating your market will pay off dividends. Remember also, that you should include as many departments as possible in this exercise such as the sales team, client services, customer services and management.

4. Our website already fits onto the iPad

We can’t argue that the majority of websites will indeed fit onto an iPad or tablet screen. That alone doesn’t guarantee that the site will operate correctly.

Sequential usage of mobile devices is very common. Google report that 90% of respondents in a recent survey of 1,611 people use multiple screens sequentially to complete a task over a certain amount of time. You cannot ignore this.

For example, users will start with the smartphone in the morning, catch-up on their desktop throughout the day and complete the journey on a tablet when sat on the sofa at home.

The tablet device is likely to be the last device which your customer will use to visit your website. It is the last device that will reinforce your brand or complete their online transaction. So, why ruin all of the hard work and provide a website that doesn’t work well on an iPad.

As a recent example, I wanted to book airport parking for an upcoming holiday. I had searched on my iPhone whilst on the train home and opened up the bookmark on my iPad in the evening. When trying to book the dates, the calendar almost took over the screen and didn’t seem to load correctly. Choosing a date was nigh on impossible and incredibly frustrating. I abandoned the transaction and used another site instead.

Another example is that of our own website. Earlier iPad models could not load the image slider we had. The image would distort but only randomly. When this happened, it looked ugly and not professional.

So, just because it fits the screen on a tablet, doesn’t mean it will work. It needs tender love and care just like desktop and mobile.

5. Let’s choose members of staff to test the site

We would certainly encourage a diverse testing panel for your mobile site but don’t rely on internal staff members to tell you what’s wrong. Your customers should do that for you. They will be the ones who will use your website in their own context and surroundings, in areas with poor mobile connectivity or in busy public places. They may become confused by the site or technology.

These are the people who will use your mobile site in scenarios you had never imagined.

If you have a social network following, reach out to them and tell them what’s happening. Get their views and opinions and then ask them to test the site. This makes them feel wanted, a part of the team and something to be proud of.

If you don’t have a social network following firstly ask yourself why and then look at say past orders, opted in subscription lists and so on. Any option to reach out externally and beyond the companies sphere will reap rewards in the long run.

6. Everything on the desktop must be included on mobile

integrated change mobileToo much information on a small screen creates a poor user experience. So whilst you may wish to have desktop content on a mobile site, make sure that it’s concise and steers the user on the right journey throughout the content (especially important for mcommerce sites).

If you have a heavy content led desktop site, consider using images to portray the message or include a search facility on the mobile site. You could always then pass these search queries into Google Analytics and further hone your content and SEO campaign.

Do not overcomplicate the mobile site or provide an ‘infinite scroll’ experience where the content just keeps coming with no end in site. Breakup or reduce the content and use an eligible font and font size of around the 14 point size.

It’s also a good idea to provide familiar icons and call to action buttons that the mobile user relates to (as shown on the right). Don’t try to be too fancy with customised icon sets. The use of the menu icon is now commonplace on mobile sites and comes natural to a mobile user.


7. No measurement

Iteration is the path to success. In order to improve you need to know what to change. When you embark on the mobile journey, it is important to know what metrics you should be tracking and how often these are reviewed. Keep the momentum running and constantly review every month or quarter.

What you should be doing is comparing traffic over a period of time against the desktop version (remember however that desktop is still the dominant force for viewing web pages).

It still surprises me how little Google Analytics is used not just by companies but also by other agencies. It’s a free, powerful tool and will provide your business with some great insights. If your digital agency handles Google Analytics for you and you don’t want to become overrun with data, then why not ask them to setup a custom dashboard for you, showing only the key metrics on the home page every time you login. Spend some time with your agency to work through the key points and areas of possible insight.