5 Tips for Great Mobile Web Design
With the advent of smart phones and tablets, the mobile web has become more ubiquitous in the world of marketing. So what do you need to do to provide a quality mobile experience for customers while meeting and exceeding your goals? Lets ask Aaron from Spyder Trap!
Mobile and SEO
First, it’s good to get a little background. Obviously, there's a lot more focus on the mobile experience nowadays. In fact, this past spring Google actually said that the mobile experience factors into what takes place search rankings.
For the last couple years, a lot of us scrambled to understand exactly how mobile SEO works. This included trying to figure out how the different ranking factors change with the switch to mobile. Now that the industry has had a couple of years to digest mobile web development and SEO, we’re beginning to see some trends on things that weigh more into mobile rankings. So without further ado, lets talk about the 5 things you should keep in mind when designing your mobile site.
Navigation - one of the most important aspects of a mobile site but also one of the most difficult to design for. A lot of mobile sites are really focused on utility. So right up front and in your face is this navigation menu. It's literally nothing but navigation bars on the screen. Brad Frost, a mobile designer, has a great quote that sums this experience up, "Mobile navigation is like a good friend. It's there when you need it."
The problem is that this process is more like an annoying friend. It's completely in your face. In this situation, you may want to take a look at doing something different or leveraging some of the things that already exists on the web. For example, the hamburger menu.
No, not the one you find at your local fast food joint! You've seen it before. You know, the box with lines in it? It's a great way to hide your mobile navigation to make it more unobtrusive and at the same time, keep it readily accessible for the user. Facebook uses this in their mobile site and in their app. Google does with a lot of their products as well.
You can also be extremely straightforward and just put a button at the top that activates a drop-down menu. Honestly though, there really is no need to put every last piece of navigation right up front. Doing this could actually cause the user to spend more time than they’d like clicking through menus to get to the content they’re looking for. You don’t want to keep people from your content, so think “simple is better."
Mobile in general is very under utilized as a feedback channel. So riddle me this. You are a restaurant or a hospitality type business. There is a customer visiting your establishment and has something to say. Whether that person just had a good or a bad experience, sometimes capturing it when it happens is very important. Having something on your site to give them this feedback channel can help with this. The feedback channel can be as simple as a short form or a link to the general manager's email. The manager can then personally send them a reply. If you’re local, you may even want to add a phone number customers can call.
Taking this one step further, you can take your completed feedback forms and gather customer sentiment. This could be a qualitative review you conduct or more quantitative data. If they rank you higher (10 out of 10 or 5 stars) you can have your form redirect to a page that thanks them for the feedback and provides options to share it on your G+, Yelp or other listings. So definitely consider the different feedback mechanisms that you can offer on your mobile site to bring a customer in.
Content is King... Sort Of
There’s a saying out there about content. You know the one, right? As much truth as this may have, it doesn't really apply as much to mobile. It's more content and context is king. When mobile first started out, it was always about a woman running through the airport with her purse or keys, dragging eight kids and a laptop and she was simultaneously trying to look up something on her phone. It had to be that fast. Now it's a lot more need based and proximity based.
We talk a lot about how the local results play really well in mobile and offer a lot of real estate to click on. Your local listings have a website to click on, a mapping feature to click on, directions to click on, so all of these different things taking up space and it's very click friendly for the user when they come through mobile search. So think through the things in your content that provide that proximity. That might be stating what your hotel is located near. For example, if you have a hotel that's near a specific attraction that might be a sports stadium or a theater venue or within a specific area, you definitely want to have content to call that out.
Not every site is big enough to need a search function, but what if yours is? If you’re using site search in your mobile experience, make sure you're using Google Analytics along with it. You’ll want to look at capturing that information and segmenting it out to see what your mobile users are searching for.
This can do a number of things. It can help you identify any pitfalls or areas where people aren’t able to get to from your navigation menu. If you have a lot of people searching for a specific page, you may want to add it to the navigation menu. Likewise, if you have certain terms that you see are being searched quite a bit and you realize you’re light on content there, you’re not bridging the gap or not putting someone together on it, you should focus some time to resolve this. Use that data to your advantage.
Leverage the Force - of Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are such a great content generation tool. Are you leveraging everything possible?
What better way is there to add social content to your mobile site than to have somebody in your place of business or just outside your business taking photos and sharing? Especially if you help increase their social web presence by sharing said photo on your site or social networks. That's obviously going to be based on the type of business you have and what your target market is like, but really think through the ways that social media and everything we do on our phones tie together.
These can be product reviews, photos or add tips/pointers for n00bs. Don't let that information just live within those specific channels. You can go into a business on Foursquare and it might have anywhere from 5 to 500 tips on what you should eat or what you should try. Why shouldn't your mobile site have some of that content where people can leave tips on specific items within your restaurant or maybe the best seats in your theater and how you should choose them.