Customers use websites in different ways so make sure you cater for them all.
Today’s consumer expects to be able to visit your business website on any device, from their mobile phone to their tablet to their desktop. That creates an interesting challenge for businesses and designers: how to create a site that works across all devices, provides the same essential information but adapts to fit not only varying screen sizes but customer behaviour too? The goal here is to create a user experience that is seamless and positive whatever, and wherever, the access point.
Research has shown that people have different expectations when they check out a site on their mobile device as compared with when they look at it on their static desktop, so a business’s job is to make sure their virtual shopfront interfaces with their customer in the best possible way each time.
One size does NOT fit all
Creating a mobile-friendly website categorically does not mean simply shrinking your existing desktop site to fit a smaller screen. Both laptop and mobile users deserve sites that have been well thought through for their needs – and with half your viewers looking at your site on their desktop, the way your website performs for them is equally as important.
Key differences for mobile users:
Speed – Mobile users are typically in more of a hurry to cut to the chase and get vital information quickly than desktop viewers; this may be because they’re on the move, checking their phone between meetings, or relaxing in front of the TV in the evening, browsing your site at the same time, and therefore easily frustrated with anything that’s hard to see or too fiddly. These users will not be prepared to spend as much time exploring your site as your desktop visitors, but they still expect to be shown the same information; this means re-prioritising by switching on and off elements of the site to make them appear differently depending on the viewing method. There will be differences too in how a device is used. For example, a desktop site can have “mouseovers” – content that is uncovered when you hover over it with a mouse – while, clearly, a mobile user has no mouse, so will need this information to be accessed in a different way.
With this in mind, design the mobile site so the parts the user is most likely to want to view are clearly visible on the landing page. A user survey conducted by Google and AnswerLab uncovered some interesting insights into what mobile users valued most when accessing sites from their device. Consider the following when making things as easy as possible for your mobile user:
- Big, easily-pressed buttons
- User-actions – such as “buy”, “get quote” or “check availability” – will benefit from being situated in large letters on the landing page, while on a desktop you may prefer a more subtle approach so as not to put off the customer with too much of a sales pitch early on in their visit
- Clear means of getting back to the home page, e.g., selecting your business logo
- Edited down content on the landing page so it’s shorter and punchier
- Adding filters to menus so they are pared down but the same level of content is still there
On the move – Adaptability is key for any business to succeed and web design is no different. When creating your across-all-devices web strategy think carefully about what mobile users may want and need, that desktop users won’t – and also, what advantages a mobile phone may have over a laptop. For example, if your business is customer-interfacing – a shop, for example – consider including mobile-specific features such as directions to your premises which use the phone’s GPS. However, it is important to respect your customer too: many people don’t like to feel they have been “found” by mysterious Internet forces without being asked first. So, if you’re including a tracking feature consider incorporating a “Find me” button rather than a button which asks for your customer’s location – that way, they feel they are in control and not you. Another common feature of a mobile-only site is a ‘call me’ button that allows users to call you up while checking the site.
Different times of day – One very exciting new area to consider when designing sites, which we are pioneering at Gravity Digital, is to change information on our mobile-friendly sites depending on the time of day. As with all the other points above, the best way of coming up with innovative design is to put yourself in the shoes of your users. In particular, think how their needs will change as the day progresses. At eight in the evening, a mobile user may be interested in different information than they are in the morning – whether that’s because they are out with friends or watching TV at home. Your business could give different content than when the site is accessed at 10am. Let’s say your business is in idyllic country cottages – you could include a ‘sunset’ picture in the evenings, which will make your site feel fresh and up to date. Or if you run a restaurant, a button which tells people how busy you are when they press it at 7pm, or what the specials are today, will be both innovative and useful. First thing in the morning? Think about what commuters might need when looking at your site. Remember, everything is flexible, from colours to content.
The key is, as with all areas of business, try to think about the needs of your customer and put them at the forefront of every decision you make. That way, you’re sure to come up with multi-purpose, user-friendly websites that will take you from strength to strength.
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We are a no-nonsense web design agency based in Derby. If you’d like a quote for a website, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.