We all know how the mobile web has exploded this year and how it is still exploding. Over the past few months I’ve had numerous experiences with and conversations about designing applications and websites for the burgeoning mobile market. Here are four broad ranging insights you can take or leave.
People expect security
Don’t be afraid to create a login for your application or ask mobile users to login. Make this easy (say, ask only for a user name) but protect user security while they are mobile. Mobile usability consultants are sure that users like this or at least don’t mind it.
Don’t worry about iPad applications
The iPad is still running along nicely on all the hype it has had this year but you need an iPad app like you need a hole in your wallet. Seriously, if anyone tells you about their expertise in designing for the iPad, start walking away. Web browsers work fine on the iPad and as long as your website works well on a laptop it will work fine on the iPad. (Update Oct 27, some confirmation from eMarketer: “mobile device users appear to think browsers offer the better user experience” even beyond the iPad.)
Get listed locally
This ought to be your number one SEO concern when it comes to mobile and it may be the only one you’ll ever need. Most SEO best practices for mobile are the same as they are for desktop but local (e.g. Google Places) has gotta be hu-u-uge for mobile.
If you think about it, there’s every reason to think that Google created local listings partly in anticipation of mobile’s growth. If Google’s local listings are not already generated based on your GPS signal, Google will be rolling this out soon, you can bet.
Quick tip about Google Places: If your company or chain has multiple offices or stores, be sure to list the office or outlet closest to the city centre. There are a number of SEO people who advise that local listings are ranked to some degree based on proximity to city center. I’m not saying this will help your ranking in Google Places but I’m 100% sure it won’t hurt.
One more thing: I’ve had to tell this to a number of people lately: Google Places is free. Free, no cost, I’m 100% sure of that. Oh, and you should also list locally with Bing and any of those other guys, too.
This is a very young demographic
That doesn’t mean you only focus on trendy 2.0 graphics and all that. This means that you understand that this group behaves fundamentally differently in many ways.
They think differently. Here’s one example: younger users are much less likely to want to use a call center and if they do they are going to be ashamed to have to do it. Make help available and make it easy for them to help themselves and figure out how to do it on their own.
Note that a significant portion of this demographic is using their parents’ money. They may need their parents’ approval to buy certain things or do certain things. Figure out how to use this in your mobile site or application without it being intrusive or embarrassing.
Ensure usability if you’re serious
The best way to be sure that your site or application is mobile ready is to hire an experienced mobile usability company