(This is the first time we’ve produced an article in both written an audio format. If you’d like to listen rather than read, please just click the play button on the player below.)
Think back to your digital business in 2009. For some of you, your business may not have existed then. For others, your website may still have been in the transition to ‘Web 2.0’: The advent of dynamic, user-generated content instead of static pages. Others will have fully adopted this and be reaping the rewards and the rest probably didn’t have a website at all.
2009 is an important year in the progression of web design and development but the chances are, you won’t know why.
In 2009, a guy named Luke Wroblewski, a designer who’s worked at the NCSA, eBay, Yahoo and also started several tech successes, first coined the phrase ‘Mobile First’. Very simply this is the notion that website and software owners should develop for mobile devices first and then build out feature and functionality for desktop.
Remember, in 2009, the iPhone wasn’t the powerhouse it is now: It was the third generation 3GS. Blackberry was still the go-to enterprise standard. Samsung had just released the Omnia: At the time, smart phone development was comparatively early-stage and browsers on these devices were poor.
But Wroblewski seemingly saw past what they were and looked to what they’d become. He was perhaps able to see to where we are now – a moment in time where more than 80% of UK adults have a smartphone. Where device adoption and development continues at a pace. With 4G connections now standard and super-fast 5G, expected just a few years ahead. Device screens getting thinner, sharper, brighter, larger and requiring lower and lower power. Pocket processing power thousands of times greater than the once largest Super Computers and that social media, which was itself in its infancy, would deliver advertising revenues of more than $50bn just 7 years later.
Perhaps what he saw however, was far more simplistic. Apple and other smartphone manufacturers had ramped up their investment in smartphone devices. As their adoption grew, so too did the potential for them to get bigger and better. That would only lead to greater adoption, more features and functionality with consumers relying on them more and more as their ‘go to’ device. Ultimately, this moment in 2017 where they are the norm, not the exception. That development brings huge opportunities: Among them, an ability to deliver web content specific to those devices. It’s been possible for years but, even in 2017, it’s not the adopted standard – and it’s only just starting to show real signs of going that way.
Referring to the fact that device users tend to be multi-tasking, for example walking down the street while searching, or scrolling while talking, Wroblewski said ‘Partial attention requires focused design’
But why is all of this important and why should you start paying attention?
Let’s look at websites and let the stats speak for themselves.
According to Google, 61% of users said they would be unlikely to return to a website they had difficulty using on a mobile device and 40% would visit a competitor site instead. Think about those two numbers alone in the context of your website visitor statistics: What a wasted opportunity! And if that wasn’t enough, what about this: smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to desktop conversion: Simply, people are more likely to convert on mobile device.
57% of people say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.
88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device will call or go to that business within 24 hours.
And, if you still need convincing, how about this? 72% of consumers that land on a poorly designed mobile site will NEVER VISIT AGAIN.
Think about your own device use just for a moment: How many day to day tasks do you carry out on your phone. How many times in a day do you unlock your phone. If you want to search for something, do you walk to a desk or simply reach into your pocket? And if you search on your phone and the website you land on doesn’t render properly, what do you do? Persevere or go to the next site that works for you. The one that lets you search for what you want or navigate in just a few clicks to the purchase you want to make.
Now think about your customers. They are no different from you. But while you read this, knowing your site is probably not as optimised as it could or should be, you might have just lost a sale or an opportunity to get the contact details of a lead.
We speak to potential clients regularly and it still surprises us how few of them have considered a mobile element to their websites at all, let alone focusing on mobile first and it’s only when we talk about some of these statistics or look at their Google Analytics data that they suddenly see the need to do so.
Mentality is shifting. It’s a slow-burn not a sea-change. Even public bodies such as the NHS have begun issuing tenders with a mobile first focus because they can see how patients are using their services differently and that drives an urgent need for change in their online provision.
Our clients are increasingly aware that even if they have 70% of desktop users now, that probably won’t be the case in 1, 2 or 3 years from now and changes to their sites should be made sooner rather than later in order that they don’t fall behind. We’re rebuilding a number of sites for clients right now for this reason.
Again, think about your own device usage and then think about your business website and then call me.
My name is Dominic Compagnone, I’m Commercial Director at Cyber, a web and software development company and you can always contact me by mobile first: 07989 555775 or if you are one of the 79% of people that reads and replies to email on their smartphone, firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll be publishing this blog in a number of places including LinkedIn and, to make one final point, that makes it likely you are listening to, or reading this on a mobile device…because that’s where more than 60% of their traffic comes from!
I’ll leave that with you and I hope to speak to you soon!