Mobile technology has boomed in recent years, and now more people than ever prefer using a smartphone or other mobile device instead of their computers for a variety of things – work, email, social media communication, shopping, and countless other tasks. Google created the term “micro-moments” to describe the quick interactions people have with their mobile devices, such as quickly pulling out a smartphone to look up something, find an address, answer a question, or interact with others. Essentially, a micro-moment in Google’s eyes is any time someone uses a smartphone because they want to know something, do something, buy something, or go somewhere.
The Shift to a Mobile-First Mentality
There are many differences when designing for mobile platforms versus designing for desktop PCs. Back when smartphones were still gaining traction, most web developers designed for traditional desktop systems first, then moved to mobile platforms as an afterthought. Many companies avoided developing specialized mobile websites for as long as possible, but users found that a site optimized for desktop viewing did not respond well to a mobile interface.
Once the importance of reliable mobile websites was firmly established, marketers turned their attention toward mobile platforms. Now, they could reach customers almost anywhere and develop new marketing campaigns aimed at capturing an active on-the-go audience. Marketing has changed dramatically from the dawn of the smartphone, and it has been a constantly shifting landscape ever since.
As the popularity of smartphones grew, it became apparent to web designers that just as much time and effort (if not more) should be spent on ensuring viable mobile websites. Today, the concept of responsive design holds a massive amount of sway in the web development world. A website with responsive design reacts/responds to the platform on which it is viewed, so users can expect an easy desktop experience, then pull out a smartphone and enjoy a robust mobile experience that maximizes the effect of the smaller screen and touch capability.
Maximizing the Impact of Micro-Moments
Google discovered that the micro-moments of interaction that a user has with a mobile device are crucial. Data gathered from customer devices have been an invaluable source of information concerning user habits, trends, preferences, and tendencies. Search data, in particular, have helped Google create more robust and accurate search engine algorithms, and now marketers can use these gathered data to adopt a mobile-first approach in their marketing campaigns.
People have very different habits on mobile devices compared with desktops. For example, when someone sits down in front of a desktop PC, it is usually for a specific purpose. Smartphones, on the other hand, have become so ingrained in our everyday lives that most people use them to browse content and tap back and forth between a handful of apps that are relevant to their interests and lives.
Understanding mobile user behavior is crucial to adopting a mobile-first approach to design and content marketing in many ways:
- Hardware typically limits mobile devices, so site designers should optimize mobile websites for speed. Most smartphone users aren’t going to bother with a slow-loading site when they can simply click away to a competitor with a few simple taps. They’re using their devices to meet needs quickly, and the essence of the mobile device is convenience. If your site isn’t optimized for speed and efficiency on mobile platforms, you need to rethink your design.
- Content marketers should strive to create specialized content for mobile viewing that makes the most of the smaller screens and touchscreen capabilities. More people than ever are using smartphones to digest video content, and those videos need to be optimized for small screens. Mobile users also should be able to manipulate other forms of content, to a degree. For example, your image gallery programming should allow swiping functionality, rather than forcing the user to tap on specific areas of the screen to advance the slideshow.
- Track and understand the differences between mobile and desktop visitors. Every web designer needs to track user data on both desktop and mobile to better optimize each platform. For example, you may notice your click-through rate for marketing emails is much higher on desktop than mobile. Look at the differences between how the email looks and reacts on both platforms to find out why this trend is happening. This is just one example of how keeping consistent tabs on your desktop and mobile site performance is great for driving your business forward.
Mobile Isn’t Going Anywhere
Ultimately, mobile isn’t going to fade into obscurity anytime soon. Business, commerce, socialization, and many work processes have been improved and enhanced with mobile technology, and web designers are going to keep looking for new ways to improve the mobile internet experience for users. If you’re designing a website for your company or looking for ways to improve an existing site, think about whether you’ve approached the situation with a mobile-first mentality and adjust your priorities, if necessary.