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June 13, 2012

What Your Site Should Do about Rising Mobile Internet Use

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At SMX Advanced I added a new line to my conference resume: Q&A moderator. The session was iConvert: Landing Pages & Conversion In A Smartphone & Tablet World and presenters explained the challenges to business in an age of mobile browsing growth. They spoke to the web development solutions available for delivering optimal mobile experiences.

It was a fantastic panel, one that I would have enjoyed liveblogging to bring the content of the presentations here. Instead, I decided to put together my own presentation on web design focused on mobile conversion. Consider this excerpt from a 2011 infographic:

mobile internet use
By 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage.

Other eye-opening statistics from the infographic:

  • Half of local searches are performed on mobile devices.
  • More than a quarter of mobile phones in the world are smartphones.

When Facebook and Google developers plan new features and products, they think of the mobile experience before the desktop experience. In other words, if the mobile user experience is poor no one expects users to stick around.

I spoke to Carlos del Rio, @inflatemouse, director of conversion analysis and digital strategy at Unbounce Marketing Solutions, and a presenter at the SMX Advanced iConvert session for his business case for a mobile web strategy.

“There are already significantly more mobile connections to the Internet than there are landlines. Right now business can access underserved and young markets by being the best in mobile, instead of fighting in the saturated desktop space.”

Requirements of the Mobile Web

In his presentation Carlos explained that the top hindrance to mobile conversions is speed; just 1 second of load time can drop conversion by 7%.

Another major obstacle to an optimized mobile experience is appropriate content delivery. I asked Carlos about the common missteps in content delivery he sees:

“Many of the image assets that people use on desktop focused websites are larger in kilobytes than an entire mobile website should ever be. The biggest missteps that businesses take is by not preparing their site for mobile by getting rid of Flash and looking at their own website on a phone. Try it. I’m pretty sure you won’t like the results you see from your own site.”

Google and Bing Recommend Responsive Design

Google and Bing have recently declared recommendations for responsive design for the web development and SEO communities to take note. At SMX Advanced, Google rep Pierre Farr was on the panel for iSEO: Doing Mobile SEO Right, where he shared Google’s “Recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites“.

Pierre offered up solutions for device-specific HTML and dynamically serving content based on user-agent detection for those unable to implement the recommended solution of responsive design. Google Developers resources for Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites goes into greater detail of implementation requirements.

Like other solutions for mobile content delivery, there are drawbacks to responsive web design, including loading time as unnecessary content is called, lacking cross-browser compatibility, and problems with image size.

In Carlos’ point of view, user expectations and content delivery requirements should be considered when making a choice for mobile site development:

“Responsive design is great for businesses that use their website to convey information or take simple data: restaurants, services, business to business, etc. Those businesses can all leverage reordering of content like phone and address and adding click-to-call. For e-commerce the loss of load speed and the need to collect more complicated information, like credit card and address, make mobile dedicated sites more beneficial.”

A lot to consider, it’s true. But for closing thoughts, I’ll introduce one final speaker and a bright futuristic outlook at mobile internet use and a world when technology is built into the fiber of everyday life:


Eric Schmidt Keynote Speech at Mobile World Congress 2012

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