One of the few things you can rely on with mobile technology is change. And change is coming faster and faster, with a proliferation of new devices, Super HD displays on handsets, wearables (Google Glass, Android Wear and Apple Watch) and new fitness platforms all arriving in the last year or so.
Not so long ago (let’s say 2007), the biggest compatibility worry you might have had with a web project would be making sure it worked with some older versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Now, you need to test with a profusion of mobile and tablet browsers at a huge range of screen resolutions, possibly offer apps on at least two mobile platforms, and make sure the whole thing is able to cope with the bandwidth constraints imposed by mobile data networks.
Added to that, the audience you want to address is more technologically informed than ever before, and have higher expectations. They will expect things to work perfectly first time – and if they don’t, they have no compunction in walking away, never to return.
So: there are some serious challenges in getting mobile right. But whilst things are certainly more complex than in the past, this landscape offers the greatest opportunities yet for brands to address their audience directly, and build a meaningful dialogue with them – and it doesn’t require a huge marketing budget to do so. There are three things that we think are at the core of a good mobile strategy:
1) Forget about platforms, focus on content
With all the devices and platforms out there, it’s easy to fixate on the technology and, for example, start building a multiplatform mobile app just because your main competitor has one – before you’ve really thought about whether you need one at all. The one thing that should be at the heart of your mobile strategy is content – because this is what you have that your customers value, and it is the currency that will drive the right traffic to you, and build a successful brand. Once you have that, everything else will fall into place around it.
2) Design for mobile devices first, every time
The bare minimum that customers expect is a website that works well on a mobile device, even under low bandwidth (mobile network) conditions – and with an increasing share of browsing taking place on tablets and phones, especially amongst the most desirable demographic groups, it’s a serious missed opportunity if your site doesn’t. It isn’t costly or complicated to do, and it shouldn’t impact on the design – and in 2014, there’s really no excuse not to.
3) Use the right tool for the job
It’s important not to be tied to one particular technology, no matter how much you love your new iPhone. Whether it’s iOS or Android, a mobile site or a social media platform, use the right tool for the job – and that means the right tool for your brand and for your customers. A careful analysis of your target audience will help you make sure you are focusing on the platforms that will be the most effective for you.
Mobile doesn’t have to be difficult – if you get the fundamentals right, it’s an incredible opportunity for established and new brands alike. A good example of this is the Insight Law site, which we designed more than two years ago and is now being launched. That delay is very unusual, but because we used adaptive design principles, the site works gracefully in small screen mobile browsers – even on devices that didn’t exist when it was conceived. It means the design still looks fresh, and it addresses the current generation of devices – as well as those to come.
So those are the fundamentals: great content, mobile-first design. And the right tools for the job. Easy!
Article originally written as part of Nuance & Fathom’s portfolio.