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In today’s digital society, the culture of mobile use has become a norm, due to the fast-paced and demanding lifestyles individuals lead. Daily tasks that once forced someone to sit in front of a computer, has become archaic, as smartphones have enabled consumers more roaming power to conduct their day-to-day activities. As a result, the power of mobile devices has now become an extension and a dependency of the way individuals fulfil their personal and professional lives.
Organisations initial online website presence was focused on the desktop user experience, this led to design decisions that do not correlate with the mobile user, in turn negatively affecting customer buying habits when mobile usage has gradually become more dominant. Therefore, the necessity for brands to adapt their online presence to fit a ‘mobile-first’ strategy wasn’t mandatory until their competitors started addressing this problem. This became a rippling effect amongst all industries, which now has changed the standard of how brands market themselves online.
According to Statista, 43.6% of website traffic was generated from mobile devices in 2016, which increased by 8.6% in 2018. By 2020, according to Ericsson, the global smartphone user base is expected to reach 6.1 billion.
So how does one implement a mobile-first strategy into their business? Let’s explore this together.
The primary focus of a mobile-first strategy is designing a website for mobiles, smartphones and tables first, that takes priority over desktop.This process is called progressive enhancement and it places your customers at the core of your online presence, whilst ensuring that the customer’s user experience (UX) and the website’s user interface (UI) remains consistent on all screen sizes.
Why would this matter to your business? Larger portion of traffic and sales transactions on websites are generated from mobile devices, this is due to the convenience and personalisation of mobile commerce (m-commerce). As a result, customers acquire a new standard of online experiences, which they will measure businesses against on all platforms.
If this sparks an interest to you and you want to adopt this strategy to enhance your customer’s online presence. Here’s a high level overview of what is required and how to implement it.
1. User research: By conducting a thorough research and analysis onyour consumer’s needs and behavioural traits (on their mobile devices), you will be able to create an impactful design that meets their requirements. As a result, you will create a strong online presence that helps set you apart from your competitors.
2. Testable prototyping: Once you’ve understood your customer requirements through your research, you should develop a prototype that tests the functionality of your platform and how it matches your customer needs. There are many ways of developing a website prototype, two of the main common ones are low (hand sketched) and high (digital mockup) fidelity, which serve their individual purposes and have different costs associated with them.
Regardless of what prototyping model you use, it’s far more cost-effective to change the mobile website designs at an early stage of its development process, than after the website is created. It's important that your website is responsive to different devices, as customer’s preferred online experience may vary at times.
3. User testing: Now that you’ve finalised your prototype website and allocated a budget for your pilot. The next stage is to test it in a live environment to assess your customer’s behaviour and business objectives. Once you have the customer behavioural data, you can quickly determine where you need to improve your user journey on your mobile website. Other components to consider will be: phone gestures that your customers will use (e.g. tapping, pinching and scrolling). How will these actions ease or complicate your customer’s transactions on your website?
It is important to note the importance of implementing a simple mobile navigation structure that will help direct customers to their intended destination, as result, boosting user conversion rates (e.g. sales and newsletter signups).
4. Content-first: A smartphone view of a website will differ from a desktop format. Therefore, when designing for a smaller screen with limited space, good design and valued added content should take priority.
5. Simplify Site Navigation: The way your visitors travel through your website is referred as website navigation. It’s important that you decide what type of navigation format your mobile website requires. The most common options for mobile websites are: bottom navigation bars and hamburger menus, which are hyperlinked icons that redirects you to a different section of the website, when clicked on.
6. Testing: Before you can move forward with launching the final version of your website, you must test all components to ensure that there are no broken links and that the sites functionality is up to specification. This will ensure that you have made all necessary amendments to create the best user experience (UX) for your customers.
7. Launch & Evaluation: Once you have made all the final tweaks to your website, you are ready to launch it in a live online environment. Remember, even after you’ve launched your website, it is important to analyse and refine the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI), as customer preferences and behaviours change and you should always be looking to optimise the customers experience.