Nearly half of the adult population in San Antonio browses the web from their smartphones. They may be looking on Wikipedia to find out who plays drums for Green Day (Tre Cool), but they are much more likely to search for the nearest restaurant or browse a retail site for a hotly-desired product. They may be responding to a non-profit’s good works in the community, getting more information about a tip from a friend or checking for the latest news.
four essential tools
If you’re doing business with the public, your website needs to be mobile friendly. The essential tools for a business on the mobile web are:
1. a locator map
2. a short description of essential products and a way to buy them
3. contact information/utilities (most smartphones allow “one click to dial”)
4. social media connections
1. there’s a map for that
Maps are key to marketing on the mobile web. Google estimatFes that most of the shopping inquiries hitting their search engine come from shoppers eager to buy and seeking a retailer. This was a key point in the sites esd developed for Shiner and Trumer Pils, two of the fine beers brewed by The Gambrinus Company. Beer connoisseurs don’t want to find any old beer – they want their brew of choice. Locators on both mobile sites deliver Google maps of nearby locations.
2. information to support the purchasing decision
Customers are also intensely interested in the descriptions of the products they seek. They are often comparing products as they are out shopping. Trumer Pils is a unique beer, so its specs are easy. But Shiner offers a variety of beers, including special brews offered for a limited time – esd made sure the main site’s “On Tap” feature works well in the mobile environment with a graphic menu of bottle caps leading to brief descriptions and specifications.
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
- If you have fewer than six featured products, you can list them on a menu screen – your customer gets to the information in three clicks
- If you have more than 6 – 9 products, break them into categories – customer gets to the information in three clicks
- If you have more than nine, consider mobile microsites; you can give each major product or line its own site, which responds to its own search words – customer arrives in a single click
4. social shopping
Every five seconds, someone uses the Yelp app to call a business, with 35 percent of the searches coming from a mobile source. In addition to Google, customers use directory sites like Yelp to find restaurants, retail and service businesses. The directory sites have become social media platforms – users not only find your business on the directory, they can also read – and post – customer photos (every 30 seconds to Yelp) and reviews. Most of the sites include direct links to your site, where the customer can find a menu, list of products and services and other key information. Customers can immediately link their reviews to their Facebook pages.
desktop sites offer too much, too tiny
Two problems plague “desktop-only” sites when accessed on a smartphone. First, the display is tiny – the “pinch zoom” function doesn’t always enlarge the area on your homepage that leads to the information the customer is seeking. Secondly, your desktop site is loaded with information, designed for deep browsing and detailed information delivery. Navigation to the customer’s desired resources may take several clicks. Generally, a mobile user wants information now – too many clicks will send them off to a competitor.
So, we start mobile sites with a fresh sitemap. We winnow out the details and identify the resources the mobile user is most likely to seek on your site. We build a simple, direct interface that produces the requested data within seconds. Many mobile sites include a simple search field as well.
coming soon to a customer’s phone near you: pay by phone
Your mobile phone is about to become a credit/debit device. Morgan Stanley estimates that 9 quarters after the iPhone launched, 85 million users are surfing from their phones, and that does not include an equally large Android/Blackberry/Windows mobile market. With this many shoppers and increasingly effective security, the mobile phone has become a powerful commercial tool. Plus, it’s easier to get to than your wallet.
so, get mobile
Next time you are out on the town, dial up your website from the phone. Is it mobile friendly?