Marketing & Business
piece written on the 16th October 2017 by  

I was approached by PayU to write an article that looked at how mobile customers should be treated differently from desktop customers. My agency does a lot of digital marketing for many companies around the globe, so it’s very easy for me to say that we know just how quickly mobile is growing.

To give you an idea, we have access to 100+ Google Analytics accounts, which allow us to see website visitors. Through this we can quickly segment mobile versus desktop users over the space of several years. One of the websites we manage received a few hundred thousand visitors a month. The breakdown shows that 60% of the visitors are on mobile devices compared to a couple of years ago where only 35% of the visitors were on mobile.

That is unbelievable growth and if that doesn’t convince you that mobile is growing and becoming increasingly important, then I simply don’t know what will.

Desktop tablet mobile

The topic of how publishers need to cater differently for mobile users versus desktop users is becoming increasingly important. Those publishers seizing the moment to cater specifically to mobile users are going to be ahead of their competitors.

There are several options when it comes to showing a website in a way that suits both desktop and mobile parties. You may, for example, create a mobi site and redirect traffic accordingly, but this isn’t a commonly practiced strategy.

Right now, responsive design is ahead of the pack as the most commonly practiced option, mostly because the other alternatives, such as native mobile applications, are too expensive and have a high barrier to entry. So, as it stands, most people are focusing on responsive design until the next best scenario comes along.

However, there are two ways to do responsive design. There’s the easy route and there’s the complex route. Using responsive design, a website can literally completely change rather than just reshaping to suit the desired device. Of course, this comes at a much higher overhead.

With all of that in mind, what should people think about and take into account to make their website suit a mobile user over a desktop user? There are a lot of things to consider. I’m not a user experience expert, but through all of our marketing and conversion rate optimisation efforts, we’ve pushed ourselves to understand a fair amount about it. These are the items that come to my mind immediately:

  1. Mobile users are usually on the move; they’re moving in and out of different settings. Although this might seem trivial, it’s really important to keep in mind because their context is continually changing and, in turn, their mood.
  2. Users who are on their mobile devices don’t have a mouse. The use of a mouse compared to a finger on a touchscreen is hugely different. The platform needs to take this into account.
  3. When a mobile user arrives on a website, the platform needs to load quickly for the user because, if it’s slow, it only takes a swipe of the finger to go to the next website.
  4. Due to the small real estate on a mobile device’s screen, the most important information needs to most definitely be above the fold. Striking headings and calls to action need to sit clearly in view for the user.
  5. Other simple things to consider are font size, darker text for contrast, and good spacing between links to allow for easy navigation around the platform.
  6. Forms are a massive one for me; there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to fill out a tiny form on a mobile device. This happens on most websites and, although a small inquiry form isn’t too much of a headache, a detailed registration form can be very painful.
  7. Shopping online on a mobile device is still a nightmare; checkout processes are far too awkward for mobile devices, and publishers need to be aware of this.

After chatting with PayU, South Africa‚Äôs largest payment gateway, something we’ve come across is that, actually, what happens when the user goes past the checkout screen on a mobile device has a lot to do with the payment gateway the site is using. Typically, this area of the payment process isn’t controlled by the publisher from a design perspective, but rather from the perspective of whether the publisher has chosen a payment gateway that takes mobile users into account to ensure that the process is seamless for them.

Of all the articles I’ve read and researched, there still isn’t a perfect approach to all of this. From all our marketing, we have conclusively been able to see that small adjustments in the direction of the 7 points above have lead to higher conversion rates, which essentially says that paying attention to the user experience of mobile and desktop users is incredibly important.

What are your thoughts?