Mobile phones; It’s safe to say the majority of the public in the UK own one. And the majority of owners use their device to surf the web; whether they are out, waiting for a train or on sitting on the sofa at home. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that if businesses and organisations are to make the most out of the benefits of mobile web then the key is to understand the types of users their mobile sites are attracting, and the scenarios in which mobile sites are being accessed.
As of July 2011, mobile web activity accounted for 12.59% of all UK web traffic. Now, more than ever before it is apparent that mobile sites are one of the fastest growing ways to browse the web. Mobile is the easiest way the majority of us now share information and catch up with breaking headlines.
Both businesses and organisations need to be aware that a mobile site can be the key to gaining consumer attention. The content which is provided on a mobile site is more important than ever before. Users are becoming much savvier in their mobile experience; if a site is not mobile user friendly then they will look elsewhere. Mobile users are not simply browsing the web out of boredom anymore, they often choose to browse via mobile rather than laptops. Its ease of access means it’s less time consuming and simply more convenient.
Mobile companies such as Blackberry have made the smartphone a way of life; branding it as a lifestyle for the professional to the busy working mother. Users can now arrange meetings, schedule appointments, buy online, and navigate GPS all from their handheld devices. Mobile is here to stay.
With this in mind businesses have to adapt at an exceptional rate; the growth of applications and QR codes mean that users are more active on the web even when they are away from their laptops. It can be difficult to know what content to provide on your mobile site as it’s difficult to know what kind of people mobile users are because the majority of people are active via mobile web. But if we can apply the same strategy to mobile web that is applied when creating website then businesses can optimise their consumer base via the mobile web.
We’ve already clarified that mobile personas are emerging as an important and distinct sub-set of Internet culture. The diversity of mobile web applications available attracts different kinds of users engaging them in different kinds of activities and practises.
The key to developing a successful mobile site is to analyse your present users who access your site through mobile browsers. This can be done through a variety of methods, but the first thing to bear in mind is the motivations of your users. Remember that “users” are people too who will have a range of reasons for visiting your mobile site. If you are to capitalise on the mobile market then you must analyse who your users are. The way to do this? Create mobile personas.
Personas help visual perspective and by creating detailed profiles of users that represent a particular type of user, businesses and organisations can adapt to anticipate users behaviours. During the design phase of a site, developing strong personas is key to the success and functionality and will provide excellent returns later in the development phase and beyond. Persona creation is an invaluable resource to web designer. They help visual perspective and give insight into what content to provide. The diversity of mobile web applications available attracts different kinds of users engaging in them in different kinds of activities and practises. With this in mind, creating mobile personas can often seem daunting and a seemingly impossible task.
Mobile content strategy requires a whole different set of muscles when thinking about users. When thinking about conventional persona development, we focus primarily on there motivations, interests, background and needs. It is clear that not all mobile users are the same type of people, so we have to analyse both present users on the main site and the type of users who will be attracted to a mobile version site of your business so it can be incorporated into the design and user experience. One thing which can be assumed is that users who will be accessing your business or organisations site will be a typical “power user”. Typically with the following characteristics;
The power user will be:
- On the go 24/7
- Wants to stay connected…even out of the office
- Wants a quick loading site
- Technology savvy – they use smart phones for a reason
Having considered the motivations and anticipated the behaviour of mobile users, the next step in persona creation is to make sure your platform engages the user. The best way to do this is to bear your user in mind continuously throughout design. You will have created personas to better understand your market, so when you develop your strategy don’t make the classic mistake of casting this aside. Functionality of a mobile site is what will draw users in, so don’t just strip down your mobile version of your site. This will frustrate users and create a bad experience. Instead engage them in an efficient and minimalist design or consider creating an application which demonstrates value and engaging content for on the go.
The key question to bear in mind when creating mobile user personas is; “what are your users doing when they access your content?” Once considered and answered, this will allow you to enhance your mobile site and ensure the content you provide is relevant to your users. User scenarios are critical for mobile content engagement, and if you can do this successfully your mobile website will be much more successful. The best way to achieve this is build both mobile scenarios and personas, take the time to consider both and then attempt to satisfy your user. Focus on solutions which will work towards building a strong mobile content platform.
Remember, mobile is not just a passing phase in the web development world. It’s here to stay, so utilise this and ensure your business is fully equipped to go mobile; always keep your users motives in mind. The growth in mobile web is a reminder that now, more than ever, it is vital both web developers and businesses strategically develop their online mobile presence.