Code Worldwide

First thing's first—designing for mobile

Matt McNeany

Matt McNeany

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

  (Article written by Code's Head of Mobile, Sean Rosenberg) Harry Nilsson proclaimed that "one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do," and I'm confident that most mobile marketers can relate. Now that mobile screens rank as the number one screen across all media, we would expect more businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by these tiny screens. In practice, most businesses have not yet evolved to meet the demands of their 'Mobile first' consumers.

More hours per day are spent on Mobile (1.8hr) than on PC (1.6hr) or TV (1.5hr). Consumers haven't abandoned their other screens, but they spend the most time with the small screen tethered to their pocket everyday.  This presents opportunities for businesses to provide contextualized & multi-device experiences. Consumers know that they can start an activity on their mobile smartphone and continue it later on with their PC or Tablet.  Over 60% of searches, internet browsing, shopping and social networking begins on a smartphone and is continued on another device.  This is an opportunity for brands to provide portability across these devices and complete more sales.

Brands must also spend time contextualizing the mobile screen experience and adding value for consumers.  A Mobile first design approach is a mindset that takes into account not only screen size, but location, optimized click-paths, loading speed and predictive content. Mobile users don't have time or patience to dig around for content and are becoming comfortable with trading privacy for personalization.

Forward thinking brands can re-prioritize content for mobile users to optimize an experience. For example, mobile airline customers are more likely to be looking up travel details they've already booked on their PC.  Thus, mobile design goes far beyond resizing art by considering the overall experience through typical journeys where a consumer turns to their mobile device.

Here are the top 10 questions that every marketer must answer when designing for mobile -->

- Which segment(s) of my customers need a mobile touch-point with my brand?

- Where will these customers physically be?

- What are typical journeys for these customers in each location?

- Can my site predict and serve the most important content for each journey?

- Can my site use search terms or location data to further personalize each journey?

- How can my site layout adapt to prioritize different features and content based on screen size?

- How long does it take my site to load in a mobile browser… that may not be on 4G?

- How many clicks does it take for a customer to reach the most important content?

- Will customers be able to continue a visit on their desktop?

- Does the call to action connect to mobile commerce solutions?  

55% of purchase related conversions occur within 1 hour of initial mobile search.  This includes actions like calling a business, making a purchase and visiting a store. Local retail will continue to be a beneficiary of mobile search as 74% of smartphone users searching for products and services make their purchases in-store.

One design strategy that is proving useful to many businesses is a Responsive Design approach. This approach allows a website to respond to a user's screen size by adapting the layout. It is an efficient way of developing one website that has multiple layouts. Depending on the complexity of a brand's technology, more advanced design strategies may be needed to provide an optimized experience for multiple screens.

Regardless of which strategy is right for an individual business, more first impressions are being made on mobile devices than on any other media.  CIO's agree that investing in mobile will provide significant sources of revenue and improve customer loyalty. By adopting a mobile design strategy, brands can greatly improve their chances of selling more to the growing population of Mobile first consumers.