Four Essentials of Mobile Site Functionality

Dave LawsonNo other channel has had to distinguish so distinctly between function and design as mobile. Given its small screens, immediate user needs, and some of the unique sensor and computational capabilities that mobility brings to bear, site functionality can drive the perception amplification of design success or failure – even if a site is impeccably designed and presented.

Functionality that is unique to mobile includes:

  • Page load times
  • Tapping into location
  • Addressing the context of the visit
  • Easily navigable content with touch-screens in consideration

There are more, of course, and each can be sliced and diced in many ways. But these are four of the key elements that should be properly incorporated into the final product. Let’s explore each further.

  1. Page Load Times – Pages need to load quickly – regardless of device, connection, or use case. Sometimes spotty coverage can be your “good behavior” worst enemy. Many customers will immediately blame a brand when their carrier’s connectivity doesn’t allow a higher speed download of images and info. Our human need for immediate results gives our brains about 4-6 seconds (maximum) before most of us will try an alternate route to get at information we need. Much like those who are stuck in traffic on the highway, many will divert to surface streets, even though it will take as long or longer to get to the destination. As long as they keep moving, they are happy. This means that you will likely need to consider responsive design and a CDN solution to deliver content or apply style sheets faster, as well as vary images based on connectivity speeds and device types. Additionally, low load images and content modules with advanced caching strategies are advisable to implement, especially with high resolution screens.
  2. Tapping into Location – Location should be a high priority for you to deliver a better functional mobile experience to your visitors. By tapping into a user’s location and properly interpreting it (GPS, triangulation, metadata in photos, etc.), you can dynamically render content that is most relevant to them at that place and at that time, such as services that are close to them, inventory that is nearby, content that is appropriate for that time of day, etc. If you deliver relevant content based on the location information you can extract from a mobile engagement, you are bringing time-saving functionality that also builds an “I know you” benefit for your brand.
  3. Addressing the Context of the Visit – With mobile, one can predetermine the context of why someone is visiting in most cases. If someone is visiting from a search, deliver content that pertains to the keywords. When someone visits from an email click, you should know what offer or incentive they received that made them click through so you can deliver them to the doorstep of conversion. If they are following your direction from a triggered SMS link, bring them to the exclusivity of a rich environment that delivers on the brand promise that your original opt-in assured. Ideally, you have a customer-centric profile environment to drive more relevancy home in the experience. In many cases, thinking about functionality in this way allows a marketer to go upstream to consider not just their mobile web strategy or their overall mobile approach, but an even bigger data strategy that drives a content plan to deliver the correct message flow across diverse touchpoints.
  4. Easily Navigable Content with Touch-Screens in Consideration – The wonders of the touch screen present functionality challenges as it pertains to navigation via mobile device. How does one get from Point A to Point B given they can zoom, tap, scroll, and swipe? Think through the number of steps in the process to go from the first page view to the last in a particular session and try to make that path possible in as few actions as possible. Even for those minimal interactions, truly understand your real-world customer and the contexts of why they are coming to you. Do your best to simplify the content and the navigation to deliver the “right here, right now” information or interactions that will benefit your customers the most. Navigability doesn’t just stop there. Often, due to the nature of mobile, a customer is physically using your mobile experience to navigate their engagement. What is on the screen should compliment or enhance their real-world.

Today’s connected, discriminating consumer doesn’t really care how they connect with you – they just expect it should happen as an enhancement to their day. Consumers will gravitate toward convenience. When you deliver with mobile functionality combined with impactful design, you win as a brand.

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