Users (or prospective customers) come to your site a number of ways but a lot of the time, they come via mobile. A quick hit on social media, or a digital ad within another website, follow the link and wa-lah, they're at your website, using a mobile device.
If you're lucky, if you've got a high involvement product or if you have a great re-targeting programme in place (hopefully you do), then that user might also look at your website on a desktop, laptop or tablet at a later date. If not, then they (and you) are stuck with a tiny screen interaction.
Despite knowing that people are on mobile devices a lot of the time, most UX (user experience) is still designed for the big screen. And on big screen, everything is different. You can show more ‘above-the-fold’ – that’s the bit on the screen before you have to scroll down. You can have more functionality – things that fly in and out, pop ups and pop outs. You can have deep menus and people tend to spend more time on a desktop version of a website (if it’s good), so technically you can have more information.
So here we are, all designing for desktops and laptops but guess where we spend our time. We don’t even need the inimitable Mary Meeker Internet Report 2019 (which we adore btw), to answer this. We’re on mobile. All the time. We go somewhere, want to find somewhere to eat, we search “café near me”. We’re shopping, we find a top we like but don’t know the brand, we search “is XYZ brand clothing good”. We’re bored, we want to go to a movie, we search “movies on today” and Google handily does a location match so we can go to the closest theatre. We’ve all become so used to things working on mobile that we forget there is a significant amount of effort required to make it so.
We use our mobiles like default brains. We concurrently research more and less than we used to - and in the blink of an eye, we decide whether we want to spend time on a website that we've arrived at as a result of our search. This decision is made through any number of factors, from the way that site looks, to how easy it is to use, to whether or not you can 'x' out of the annoyingly large pop up that has appeared and hasn't been optimised for small screens.
Most businesses are not mobile ready. Yeah, they're mobile friendly - as in utilise responsive design to scale the website down to size, but mobile ready they are not.
DO I NEED TO BE MOBILE READY OR IS IT ENOUGH TO BE FRIENDLY?
For a bunch of businesses, including ours, mobile friendly is fine. We don’t rely on people (at the moment) searching for us during their commute and buying our services online. We’re more a desktop research kinda proposition and so investing heavily in a mobile ready website might not be the best use of our dollars. One day maybe, but it’s not a priority right now.
If, however, you are a seller of the latest widget – or something people could re-order online – or a tour, a café, a consumable service or product – then get mobile ready.
Mobile ready requires you to think first about the role your website plays and then to consider how that changes when people are looking at it on the go.
If you are a café for example, your website is the menu on the street or your front of house welcoming people in. In real life how do you welcome people in? And then entice them to stay? Building the online equivalent of a huge welcoming smile or even just showing your busy times, menu or specials first on your mobile ready site can be the difference between sorta interested and super interested.
What about if you re-sell coffee beans online? In that case, your website is your sales person. Would you make a person who came to buy from your store walk through three or four doors before they could get to the counter? No? Then don’t make them click through three or four pages before they can find the product they want and check out. Put the most popular products up front on the mobile home page and make it a one-click wonder to purchase (with the option to remember details too if you can!)
Mobile ready design doesn't go as far as mobile first design (more on this another day), but it provides an infinitely better user experience than mobile friendly design. Mobile ready, in our world, simply means that you're ready to greet, meet and engage your potential customer in the best way possible, using a specially considered and designed mobile version of your website.