We all love our smartphones dearly — at least I know I do. And with the amount of time that we spend on our phones each day, it’s hard to imagine life without them. To that end, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that mobile devices took over a while ago as the dominant source of online traffic, a trend that is predicted to remain in place for years to come. But nobody could’ve predicted just how much mobile usage would increase.
Mobile Changed Everything, and Now It’s Changing Again
The transition from desktop to mobile over the last decade has been fast paced, to say the least: In 2013, mobile phones made up just 16.2% of worldwide traffic. Two years later in 2015, that number more than doubled, reaching 35.1%. And if that jump wasn’t big enough, the number continues to soar, with mobile claiming a whopping 53.3% of traffic in 2019. Experts projected mobile to continue its reign as king of our digital world for years to come. And with the help of COVID-19, they couldn’t have been more right.
Since lockdown began in March of 2020, people have turned to the internet more than ever before as a way to stay connected and entertain themselves. While data on device usage was already trending toward mobile, the pandemic played a large role in accelerating these behavioral shifts, resulting in increased video streaming, gaming, mobile shopping, and more people taking to social media than ever before to maintain connections. Such data suggests that it’s finally time we start designing for an all-mobile-all-the-time future.
Changing the Way We Think
Unresponsive sites can be highly aggravating, and with mobile traffic boasting such large numbers over the past few years, you’d think that practically every website would be mobile-friendly. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. In fact, only 52% of companies use a template that works for both desktop and mobile.
Today, all four generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z) have major purchasing power, and have turned into one technology-driven, device-defined, Impulse Generation characterized by fast decision-making, constant connectedness, high expectations, and short attention spans. At Boston Digital, we account for this behavior in our approach to mobile design and content by accommodating usage across all devices, making the transition between desktop and mobile a seamless experience.
The key is in changing the way you think about mobile. Often, people run into trouble because they still think in terms of above-the-fold and below-the-fold. Since handheld devices have much smaller screens than desktops, people tend to cram a ton of information into a small amount of space, overwhelming the user.
When it comes to designing for mobile, we should look at spatial and other limitations as opportunities to think creatively about new ways to capture attention.
Three Keys to an Improved Mobile Experience
Good mobile content and design does three things: it gets a user’s attention, retains their interest, and enables them to take action. At Boston Digital, we use specific tactics tailored to the preferences of the Impulse Generation to achieve each of these things.
1. Get their attention
Synonymous with “stopping the scroll,” getting a user’s attention causes them to pause their browsing and start reading. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. Two simple ways of harnessing that thumb-stopping power is with eye-catching visuals and short, intriguing headlines that leave people wanting more. This disrupts their monotonous scrolling and causes them to focus their attention on your content.
Another way to get a user’s attention is with the type of content you’re delivering. Not everyone likes to take in information the same way — some people read, some scan, some want icons and tidbits of information, and others prefer video. This should be reflected in your content, which should deliver information through various mediums.
2. Retain their interest
Once you’ve gotten a user’s attention, the goal is to keep them engaged. Because mobile screens offer less space than desktops, you have to tell visitors why your content matters and why they should care, right away. If you don’t, people will resume their scrolling elsewhere.
It’s also important that your content has a clear, direct purpose. Every bit of information you provide should work together to tell a logical, coherent, and compelling story. This story should work like a sales funnel, building comprehension and engagement as you drive deeper down the page by offering increasingly specific details about your product or service and telling people where to go for more information.
3. Enable them to take action
The ultimate goal of any content is to get visitors to take some sort of action. While getting a user’s attention and retaining their interest certainly make people want more of your content, the most effective mobile sites provide that material right away. But telling your entire story in one place can be overwhelming to users and feel like information overload. This is especially true on mobile, where smaller screens mean just a few sentences cover an entire page. Rather than cramming everything into one place and creating a mobile site thousands of pixels tall, you should provide off-ramps or interaction points — like CTAs and text links — that let visitors dig deeper into the specific information they’re looking for.
Look At The Data!
You might be asking yourself, “How can I create a better mobile site if I don’t know what my users want?” The answer is simple: find out using analytics and data.
At Boston Digital, we use real human behavior and insights to inform our work. Tapping into the actions and minds of your audiences gives us the ability to deliver digital experiences that are purposefully tailored toward what people want. Because mobile displays provide less space for content, it’s crucial to pinpoint what, exactly, it is that people are looking for from your brand. This information can then be used to shape your mobile design and make the most of the space that you do have.
Our redesign of the Carrier Residential website is a great example of how to use insights to inform your design and content. After gaining a deep understanding of our target audience, which includes both homeowners and dealers, we were able to develop a user experience with easy access to content and helpful resources that cater directly to their needs.
It Doesn’t Stop There...
Just because you’ve optimized your content for mobile doesn’t mean your work is done. In fact, you should never be completely done adjusting your mobile design and content. Your initial site and content will be designed based on educated guesses, at best, and will likely require adjustments. The best digital experiences take analytical data into careful consideration not just at the beginning of the design process, but throughout and after launch, using that information to constantly evolve and optimize user experience.