Taking your brand mobile

You’ve worked hard to create a meaningful, engaging website for your audience. You’ve carefully thought through the content, the actions your audience will take, what results you want your website to have. You’ve developed an online experience that reflects your brand and extends your in-store experience. You’ve tested your site on various desktop- and laptop-sized screens and are convinced that the user experience is as good as you can make it.

But now you’re noticing a shift: People are walking around with mobile devices (we barely call them cell phones anymore, since “phone” is one of the lesser-used features) and they want to access your site on the go. The problem is: Your finely tuned site is… well… finely tuned for a larger-screen experience.

What should you do?

  • Find out who’s accessing your site and how. You can do this through analytics, by polling your audience, and even with just a few demographic assumptions about your audience.
  • Do an ROI assessment. Determine the return on investment to see if it’s worth adding a mobile site. If just nine of your thousands of visitors are mobile visitors, then it might not be worth it. However, if those nine customers represent 90% of your income, yeah, it’s worth it.

When you see a growing contingent of viewers looking for a mobile experience or even a few who represent a potentially large revenue opportunity, go mobile. And keep these factors in mind when you do:

  • Size doesn’t matter. If you decide to create a mobile website, it’s not just about renting a miniaturization machine from your local sci-fi gadgets store and shrinking your site to fit on a smaller screen. A mobile site should be its own experience, not just a 6-point font version of your regular site: Reduce the number of on-screen choices to button size easier to press. If you’re a sports store and have dozens of SEO-friendly links on your website’s home page, consider a mobile version that starts with just 2 buttons – “apparel” and “equipment” – and allows users to drill down. Mobile sites aren’t about just mini-me versions of your regular site. They are about being user friendly in an on-the-go context that just happens to use a smaller screen.
  • Context is king. An online audience who accesses your site on their regular computer might be curious browsers, they might be shopping around, or they might be planning to buy. A mobile audience, however, is on the go and is often accessing your site with a much more direct purpose in mind. That purpose might be to shop but it might be for some other reason. Consider your audience and the situations in which they find themselves on the road and needing to go to your site. Are they looking to your site to solve a specific need? For a good example of what I’m talking about, just look at iPhone Apps. Many of those apps solve situational problems for on-the-go users and wouldn’t be useful when functioning on a desktop or laptop.
  • Brands must be consistent. Whatever you choose for your mobile experience, the brand experience you offer your customers must remain consistent. If your brand has long relied on its stodgy, old boy’s club experience to attract a specific demographic of customers, moving to mobile doesn’t give you permission to write in a sans serif font face and “funkify” the experience. Brands need to remain true to the experience they provide, no matter what media they are communicated through.

We’re seeing the initial emergence of the mobile web right now as people choose platforms and figure out how and why they interact in a mobile environment. There will come a day when every site needs to provide a mobile experience and you can get a jump on your competition by starting now.