5 Consumer Expectations for Mobile

Mobile devices are taking over. By 2016, there will be 1 billion smartphone users, with 257 million smartphones and 126 million tablets in the U.S. alone, according to Forrester Research.

In order to capitalize on this popular technological trend, businesses must keep up with the expectations of their mobile customers. This doesn't just mean launching a mobile site so your business is accessible on smartphones and tablets, it also includes launching a mobile site that is truly optimized for the user experience, just as one hopefully does with its traditional websites. Keep the following best practices in mind when developing for the mobile experience and don't forget to engage in regular mobile testing (wsm.co/mobiletesting2013) to ensure that your brand is continually meeting user expectations.

1. Create a Simple Design

Business owners often launch mobile sites that are exact replicas of their desktop version, but the problem in doing so is that the user experience differs dramatically when moving to a 4-inch screen. Users already have to rely on their fingers to click links, type, and zoom in and out of content, which is why Dennis Mink, chief marketing officer at DudaMobile says mobile sites should, above all else, be simple.

"Where I see businesses struggling is they have this idea that they need to take their entire website and port it over to mobile," said Mink. "The reality is, you don't need to port your entire website over, you just need to make decisions and trim it down to the most core information that people are looking for."

Therefore, business owners should think less about design and more about their customers' needs as they produce a mobile site.

2. Highlight Important Info

When a consumer uses a mobile device to look up information about a business, they are typically seeking out directions or service or contact information.

The mobile consumer experience can be improved by featuring all of this information on a mobile site's initial landing page. While additional information can be included, it shouldn't be the site's focus. After all, most consumers aren't accessing your mobile site so they can follow your business on Twitter. And directly next to your site's most important information, consider including relevant calls-to-action.

3. Feature Calls-to-Action

Mobile sites usually have one or two calls-to-action, which typically makes it easy for consumers to contact the business or locate it on a map, according to Mink.

These buttons should be large enough to be clicked on with a finger, and when pushed, should automatically start dialing the company's phone number or open up the maps app to provide directions. Furthermore these navigational elements should be located at the top of the mobile site, so consumers can take immediate action once the site loads.

4. Keep Sites Quick

One of the biggest influencers of bounce rate on both traditional and mobile websites is site speed. Slow speeds on mobile sites can actually be more of an inconvenience than their desktop counterparts, because mobile users are generally trying to find information as quickly as possible. Moreover, fast websites improve the user experience, as well as metrics like conversion rate, average order value and time-on-site.

Solutions like SiteSpect AMPS (Automated Multivariate Performance Solution) can help users optimize site speed, automatically and non-intrusively. SiteSpect AMPS proves its impact by not only measuring speed, but also specific key performance indicators (KPIs), including bounce rate, conversion rate, average order value and abandonment rate. Once the site's speed has been optimized, it is time to consider screen sizes.

5.Optimize for Screen Size

It is important to remember that mobile devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For instance, tablets fall into the "mobile" category, despite the fact that these devices are used much differently than smartphones.

"So much of tablet usage is done at home, so I think that the expectations are different," said Mink. "People aren't going to call a business through their tablet, but they will through their phone. So there are some differences in behavior that you'll find depending on the device that they are using."

That said, you don't necessarily need to create a tablet-optimized site initially. In fact, traditional websites are usually sufficient for tablet users. Website owners, however, should keep a close eye on traffic to determine if creating a tablet-optimized site would be beneficial. If your site starts receiving a lot of traffic via tablet devices, it might be time to consider launching a site redesign that makes your site easy to use on both tablets and desktops, as Website Magazine recently did, or using a platform like Skava, which offers a tablet-specific commerce solution.