Feature Article

March 26, 2013

Top Tips for Brands Adapting to the Mobile Generation

By TMCnet Special Guest
Daniel Weisbeck, CMO and Head of Product Strategy, Netbiscuits

Anyone keeping an eye on the mobile space is well aware of the continued diversification occurring across the sector. In an already crowded market, this year has seen the introduction of a range of new devices, such as the world’s “fastest” 4G smartphone from Huawei and the latest Google tablet, the Nexus 7 from Asus.

Similarly, the mobile OS market has seen new faces entering the fray with Mozilla’s Firefox Mobile OS and Canonical’s Ubuntu and connectivity is seeing continued growth with LTE (4G) services now rolling out internationally.

Each wave of innovation brings with it more screen sizes, functionalities and features, operating systems and browser versions.

Traditionally, brands would devise apps and mobile sites with specific devices or operating systems in mind; however, market fragmentation means this approach is increasingly time consuming, expensive and sluggish to adapt to new market opportunities. It has also had an impact on the ubiquity of mobile applications – once upon a time the app was touted as the savior of brands and widely considered the best-practice method for delivering smart content to mobile devices. While expensive, these apps could take advantage of device features, such as GPS, cameras and video, much more effectively than the mobile browser, and could also guarantee a certain level of functionality due to data pre-stored on the handset even when experiencing poor mobile signal.

But technologies have evolved and the mobile Web is no longer the stop gap it once was. Brands need to look to the future, learn from the mistakes of the past and develop for the mobile Web, but what should brands be doing to succeed in this new online environment?

Leverage fluid technologies to adapt to fast changing brand environments

In order to deliver the most useful and engaging experiences, brands have previously relied on delivering expensive, and often short-lived, native applications. However, these ignore the fact that most brands Web space is transient, often replaced within a year or two as new opportunities and campaigns of functionality are added – often requiring a completely new application built from scratch.

Using Web standards such as HTML5 with adaptive Web technologies and device intelligence, brands are able to build a framework, from which variations based on functionality, content, size and layout can be tailored to thousands of different device profiles. This fluidity allows brands to save time and resources replicating amends across multiple apps and instead focus on delivering a fantastic brand experience or launch new campaigns.

Prepare for tomorrow’s customer experience today

Technology never stands still, especially in the world of mobile, so don’t create a website that is only suitable for the technology of today. Consumers are already accessing the Web via smart phones, tables, desktops, laptops and game consoles, and the next generation of interactive devices such as goggles and fridges are already being demonstrated. With new innovations (and firmware) hitting the market each day, it is pivotal that brands are nimble enough to adapt and can sync their online offering across every device, today and tomorrow. 

At the time of writing, there is not a single, holistic responsive design that can cater for all possible mobile and connected devices. However, it is clear that the answer will not be found in native apps or responsive technologies that are just rescaled to fit a screen size. Adaptive technology could therefore play a fundamental role in providing more efficient Web experiences for all users in the future.

Mobile situations are not all created equal

Tablets and smartphones can easily be used in any context, indoors or outdoors, whereas desktop computers are stationary and are often associated with work environments. Different contextual environments mean that users interact differently during their leisure and work time and that developers must give careful consideration to anticipated user interaction.

Good mobile sites are different from their desktop versions as they account for the shorter attention span when undertaking a mobile search. Ideally, the site’s schema needs to be adjusted to fit the user’s situation. For example, the navigation menu of a local train company website (from a normal browser as opposed to an app) could display the train schedule as the first item according to  current location detected from GPS coordinates, if viewed on a mobile phone.

When the user views the same website at home on a desktop, the navigation menu could offer the ticket reservation or pages with special offers.

Don’t alienate potential customers

The Netbiscuits Quarterly Metrics report published in February found that a mobile strategy that caters for all of the top ten device classifications globally would only capture 56 percent of the total volume of traffic on the Netbiscuits platform. And with consumers now interacting with brands across a plethora of devices at various stages of the purchase lifecycle, it’s more important than ever for brands to be all encompassing.

With iPad sales projected to increase from 2012 to 2016 by 132 percent and Android sales growing twice as fast, ‘couch commerce’ is fast shaping how e-commerce will look in the future. One study revealed that a one-second increase in load time can cause 11 percent fewer page views, a 16-percent decrease in customer satisfaction and a 7-percent loss in conversions.

A brand without a tablet version of their website or iOS app is simply not just going to lose that potential sale, but future ones as well.

Conclusion

The mobile Web is evolving at an incredible rate and is clearly here to stay. Since the launch of the first WAP enabled device in 1999, each wave of device innovations brings more screen sizes, features, software and choices. With the Web set to drive the way that brands interact and talk to customers it’s important that the right foundations are put in place now, or brands risk falling behind the eight ball.




Edited by Braden Becker


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