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View Full Version : A littile honesty about Mobile Design and phone usage



Harold Mansfield
06-18-2014, 01:23 PM
We've all read the reports, articles and blog posts on mobile and how usage is overtaking desktop use. I'm not here to argue against that.
But I'm starting to question some of the assumptions that we've been making with that information, mainly, the use of actual phones as a web surfing device.

I'm arguing that people don't use their phones as their primary web/ search/ reading device and that doing so is a miserable experience for many reasons:



The screen is too small. Even on the larger screens, it's still not a nice experience surfing the average website or multiple websites even if they are responsive.

Speed is inconsistent depending on who your mobile provider is. Also makes the experience frustrating.

I definitely agree that people use their phones a lot. I use mine for all kinds of things in a pinch, mostly location finding, and quick hits of information like when I'm at a bar discussing sports trivia, and following my Fantasy points when I'm away from home watching the games on Sunday . But I'm doing those things via apps. Not websites. I don't spend a lot of time on my phone searching and reading websites.

I argue that most repetitive mobile usage on phones is through apps designed for phones. Banking, shopping apps, and so on are definitely on the rise and part of life now. When I go to Amazon on my phone, tablet and desktop I'm getting 3 different experiences. It's not one website that is responsive for all screen sizes. And no matter how well Amazon's mobile website is, it's still not as nice as shopping from my tablet or desktop and given the choice that's where I'd rather shop from.

This is different depending on what you are looking for. Things like road service, maybe looking for a local service provider or business, and so on definitely need to be functionally mobile friendly, but to a point. The information needs to be accessible immediately in the title or description. I'm not investigating a new investment consultant on my phone.


Tablets on the other hand ARE web surfing devices and this is where I think the majority of mobile web surfing is happening. A decent website should look and function well on any sized tablet, and it's a much more enjoyable experience.


The big exception is if I'm stuck somewhere and my phone is all that I have.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't design for mobile phones, but I'm arguing that every business website is not the kind of business that people are going to be spending a lot of time on, on their phones. They're looking for quick hits of information.

I've studied MANY websites over the past couple of years, and I haven't seen one that is a truly enjoyable experience on my phone. Yes, they are responsive, and fit the screen well, but unless they are made specifically for that screen size, it's still the equivalent of an adapter...not a product made specifically for that device.

I argue that if mobile phone users are your target audience then you should design a site just for phones, or build an app. Otherwise, larger screens ( tablets, laptops, and desktops) are still where business takes place.

What do you guys think?

Brian Altenhofel
06-18-2014, 07:10 PM
My anecdotal experience closely follows what the major studies have been showing. As some examples:

Pawn shop (100K sample size) - 40% mobile, 12% tablet, 48% desktop (conversion rates of 13%, 19%, and 68% respectively, though mobile dollars are double tablet dollars)
Law firm 1 (4K sample size) - 30% mobile, 2% tablet, 68% desktop
Law firm 2 (11K sample size) - 36% mobile, 4% tablet, 60% desktop
Liquor store (20K sample size) - 34% mobile, 13% tablet, 53% desktop
Funeral services (20K sample size) - 24% mobile, 13% tablet, 63% desktop
Tourism (25K sample size) - 43% mobile, 12% tablet, 45% desktop
Restaurant (38K sample size) - 52% mobile, 10% tablet, 38% desktop
Online forum (3M sample size) - 41% mobile, 13% tablet, 46% desktop (excluding mobile app users)
My web dev business (40K sample size) - 10% mobile, 2% tablet, 88% desktop
My hosting business (<1K sample size) - 5% mobile, 3% tablet, 92% desktop

Freelancier
06-18-2014, 09:33 PM
Restaurant (38K sample size) - 52% mobile, 10% tablet, 38% desktop
That doesn't surprise me. I think it's more about the trade-off between the immediacy of access and the hassles of a mobile site. Mobile sites are harder to use, but when I'm driving around looking for a restaurant, I could care less about how hard it is to use as long as it gives me the info I need right then.

Compare that use model to the model for a tech business, like hosting or development. Those aren't immediate need types of activities that lend themselves to mobile. Which is why I haven't bothered to create a mobile version of my business sites... there's just not going to be enough demand to justify the time.

Wozcreative
06-18-2014, 11:35 PM
If you have a location, you better damn well have a mobile version. I'm always googling hours of operation, cell phones or addresses on my phone.

krymson
06-20-2014, 01:56 AM
If you have a location, you better damn well have a mobile version. I'm always googling hours of operation, cell phones or addresses on my phone.

I have to agree with this... My day job I work for a computer repair company. Many people that come in are giving up laptops for tablets, because most users are just doing social media, email, and internet browsing. But if you're offering a digital service such as ours (web design) you shouldn't really have to worry about mobile design as much as food places and retail. The only reason I have a mobile version of my site, is for example purposes only... and to be honest it could be better, but my intent is to show that I can do it, am proficient with it, and I offer it as an option.

But like i said, I thing retail and restaurants its more important for them than most anyone else.

KristineS
06-20-2014, 02:23 PM
I would agree with you Harold. I think most people are looking for quick hits of information, not necessarily to surf the web and use a website from their phone. I do tend to rely on apps for most things. Where I do use the web is mostly searching for restaurants or looking up a bit of information on something I saw while traveling. And, really, when I think about it, for restaurant searches, I'd probably use an app like Trip Advisor first and then go to look at a restaurant's website if the info I got from the app sounded useful.

Harold Mansfield
06-21-2014, 11:10 AM
It's really difficult to discuss this with some clients. Many swear to high heavens that everyone is surfing the web on their phones 24/7 (because that's what they "heard" somewhere), and that mobile phones will be a large percentage of their traffic.

Some are correct. They have a business or idea that really does target mobile users. Yet, they don't want to commit to that premise by building a mobile app or designing specifically for mobile. What they really want is one website that performs like an app on phones, while still functioning normally on tablets, laptops and desktops. It's an impossible situation.

If mobile is your target audience, there's nothing wrong with making phones your priority. You will have far better results than trying to make one website fit all.

singhabhishek251
11-17-2014, 03:59 AM
I think that though all website is not made for mobiles but there is a habit of using mobile if we are away from desktop and how many of us stick everytime with desktop? I do not think always so obviously we use mobile and try to find the information even it is not in a good shape because all we need is some information urgently and so people are tend to adjust with that much issue and they know that we cannot all website to fin perfectly on mobiles.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 10:52 AM
Based on Brian's numbers, not setting up a webpage to be comparable with mobile device is a very poor business decision. When you are looking at between 30 and 50% of your visitors using those devices, that is very significant. However, it does appear still be common. Many site try to be "Responsive" but in reality they are just showing a smaller version of the desktop version. That is a big mistake. Cell phone and even tablets need to have the content adjusted to suit the screen size.

bjay99
11-17-2014, 10:53 AM
I argue that if mobile phone users are your target audience then you should design a site just for phones, or build an app. Otherwise, larger screens ( tablets, laptops, and desktops) are still where business takes place.


I agree with this 100%! Putting aside mobile surfing... a lot of "internet usage" is through APPS like facebook, twitter, youtube, and etc. It is only quick google searches for hours of operatoins, locations, and quick fact lookups.

Having said that, if you find yourself speaking in front of an audience and your company is mentioned, someone in that audience may check out your website.... what impression will your non-mobile site give to that audience member?

Freelancier
11-17-2014, 11:01 AM
what impression will your non-mobile site give to that audience member?That mobile users looking for my web site are NOT my best potential customers. And that can be perfectly fine if the statement is true. If it's not true, then it's important to fix that situation.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 11:31 AM
That mobile users looking for my web site are NOT my best potential customers. And that can be perfectly fine if the statement is true. If it's not true, then it's important to fix that situation.

Now days it's almost impossible to tell who will be looking you up on your website. Having a non-mobile friendly website now days is almost a bad as presenting a business card printed on a dot-matrix printer. It just shows you are not keeping current (at least on that aspect). The site doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs basic info and proper formatting.

Freelancier
11-17-2014, 01:20 PM
Now days it's almost impossible to tell who will be looking you up on your website.Not at all true if you really know who your customers are. I get that many new business owners do not have clear ideas about where their customers are going to find them. I'm very sure that none of my best potential clients are sitting there hunting for someone like me on their cell phone. In fact, since January 1, my consulting site has been looked at by 652 desktop users and only 21 phone users and 12 tablet users. So < 5% of users looking for my company have mobile devices. That tells me that I'm not spending on mobile users just now. If someone looks for my site on a small screen, they'll find my phone number at the top and can call me to talk, I don't need to create a mobile site for them.

Absolutes are rarely true in marketing.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 02:18 PM
Not at all true if you really know who your customers are. I get that many new business owners do not have clear ideas about where their customers are going to find them. I'm very sure that none of my best potential clients are sitting there hunting for someone like me on their cell phone. In fact, since January 1, my consulting site has been looked at by 652 desktop users and only 21 phone users and 12 tablet users. So < 5% of users looking for my company have mobile devices. That tells me that I'm not spending on mobile users just now. If someone looks for my site on a small screen, they'll find my phone number at the top and can call me to talk, I don't need to create a mobile site for them.

Absolutes are rarely true in marketing.

Given the low traffic to your site, I am assuming that it isn't one of your major sources of advertising. But even with the numbers your are presenting, 3.2% of your web traffic is coming from cell phones and 5% is coming from some source of mobile device. At that traffic level, we would be looking at a site with very basic information. Including a few lines of CSS that would allow for very on cell phone would be very easy, with little additional cost.

I do agree the absolutes are rare in marketing. But that doesn't mean that aren't any. One absolute that is true is "You never get a second chance to make a first impression".

Freelancier
11-17-2014, 02:30 PM
I am assuming that it isn't one of your major sources of advertising.Actually, I'd put it at 95% of new clients come via my web site. And < 5% mobile means -- to me -- that I don't need to do a thing for mobile, because the web site displays just fine on a mobile device, albeit you need to scroll around and zoom. As I always say: know your clients. My clients are just not looking for me on a phone. They might be looking for YOU on a phone, but doesn't mean they're looking for me. B2B just doesn't happen much on a phone device unless the point of the B2B is to bring some feature to the phone.

Harold Mansfield
11-17-2014, 02:55 PM
I'm doing a side project at the moment that is strictly a mobile website. Everything about it is with phone users in mind. It makes it so much easier to create when you have a clear purpose and vision of your target audience.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 03:12 PM
So you are OK with 4.8% of your potential clients having difficulty viewing your major source of advertising? Would you accept a ~5% defect rate on any other form as advertising?

Freelancier
11-17-2014, 03:52 PM
So you are OK with 4.8% of your potential clients having difficulty viewing your major source of advertising? Would you accept a ~5% defect rate on any other form as advertising?I think the answer is obvious to the first question. I don't consider those people my best potential clients, so I have no real issue with them having a problem easily viewing my site. My best potential client isn't on his phone at a ballgame looking for what I do. They're at their desk, falling behind in their work, struggling with their day-to-day problems... and looking for answers on their desktop computer.

Know your customer.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 04:40 PM
Freelancier - We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Now back to the original post.
I still believe that it is a poor business decision when creating a website not to have it formatted for easy viewing on tablets, cells and desktops. By using a combination of CSS, HTML5, Modernizer, jquery it is very possible to adjust the same website to fit many different devices. You don't have to create and maintain two or more sites to accomplish this.

Harold Mansfield
11-17-2014, 04:50 PM
Now back to the original post.
I still believe that it is a poor business decision when creating a website not to have it formatted for easy viewing on tablets, cells and desktops. By using a combination of CSS, HTML5, Modernizer, jquery it is very possible to adjust the same website to fit many different devices. You don't have to create and maintain two or more sites to accomplish this.

Of course it is. The problem I run into is people wanting a responsive site to look and behave like an app and putting most of their emphasis on that, when mobile isn't a noticeable measurement of how people access their site. They don't get that every functionality isn't going to be user friendly on a phone. Responsive doesn't mean that the site is strictly for mobile. It just means that the dimensions adjust for mobile viewing.

If you want app like functionality, you should build an app, or build just for mobile. I haven't seen a site yet that does both 100%. Even the big boys. They usually have a mobile site and a desktop site, or they have an app.

nealrm
11-17-2014, 05:08 PM
Of course it is. The problem I run into is people wanting a responsive site to look and behave like an app and putting most of their emphasis on that, when mobile isn't a noticeable measurement of how people access their site. They don't get that every functionality isn't going to be user friendly on a phone. Responsive doesn't mean that the site is strictly for mobile. It just means that the dimensions adjust for mobile viewing.

If you want app like functionality, you should build an app, or build just for mobile. I haven't seen a site yet that does both 100%. Even the big boys. They usually have a mobile site and a desktop site, or they have an app.

I'm in the process of doing exacting that right now. I'll post the result when I am closer to completion.

nealrm
11-23-2014, 10:52 PM
I still doing a little debugging and making some adjustment but it is close enough to show the rough draft.

Real Estate Search Page (http://www.houseviewonline.com/Missouri-Real-Estate-5.php)

This is set up to display on all screen from 320 to 2500+, portrait or landscape. Same webpage on all devices, desktop, tablet or mobile.

I'm still tweaking so you will see some dialog boxes that aren't right. I am also adding in CSS for browsers that don't support flexboxes.

also the ####/### you see at the top will be replaced by a real title once the debugging is complete. (that is a cheat showing the browser width/height)

Harold Mansfield
06-09-2015, 03:49 PM
Thought this thread could use a bump. What a difference a year makes when I first started this post.

In that year the Galaxy Note, iPhone 6, and other models of "phablets" or 5 inch screens are the hot phones and people are using them for everything.

Mobile use/search is now higher than that of desktops and laptops. Consequently people are embracing Cortana, Siri, and "OK Google" as the way they search now instead of typing.
Web based information devices like Echo and Jimbo are taking off big time. It's getting so that you don't have to search out a specific website to get most of your information anymore.

All experts are saying that the next billion people to get online will be doing so on a mobile device.

The web and devices have gone from a place or device that you used to search for information, to being intuitive and bringing the information to you, or answering your questions directly.

Last year I was saying "not yet", now I'm saying "absolutely".

Freelancier
06-09-2015, 04:26 PM
All experts are saying that the next billion people to get online will be doing so on a mobile device. Thankfully, the people in rural India, China, and Africa are not my customers. :)

billbenson
06-09-2015, 04:35 PM
For me the most important reason to be mobile compliant is because, from what I understand, it's part of Google's algorithm. My big orders come from someone sitting in front of a monitor.

Point being, it's still going to depend on your industry.

Harold Mansfield
06-09-2015, 04:46 PM
I think I'm looking at it more from an opportunity stand point. Emerging markets aside, with the exception of people like us..many (who don't work on a computer all day) spend more time on their phones than their computers and are increasingly using them to do tasks, take care of business and get information.

I just think there's a lot of opportunity there as it's still in the early stages.

billbenson
06-09-2015, 05:15 PM
I think I'm looking at it more from an opportunity stand point. Emerging markets aside, with the exception of people like us..many (who don't work on a computer all day) spend more time on their phones than their computers and are increasingly using them to do tasks, take care of business and get information.

I just think there's a lot of opportunity there as it's still in the early stages.

I completely agree with that. Just carve out your niche.

adowns
09-09-2015, 04:36 PM
Even in the US 20 to 25 percent of households as of 2014 didn't have a desktop or laptop in the home. Their only access to the internet is through smartphones.

Harold Mansfield
09-09-2015, 05:11 PM
I know a few people like this right now. Even though they have computers in the house, they do and search everything on their phones and truly consider them their internet devices. Upgrading to new computers isn't even a concern for them, as long as they have their phones.

Maybe I'm old, but I can't Facebook, Email, and Message people from my phone regularly. In a pinch, yes it's a great convenience , but not as my main internet device.

turboguy
09-09-2015, 06:18 PM
I have to agree with that Harold. I use my phone for the internet when there are no other options. I have seen times when I was out and read something on the phone that I wanted to respond to or got an email I needed to answer and decided to wait until I was back and could do that on my desktop.

Of course from an importance of dealing with the phone market (having a responsive web site) shortly after Google made their change I checked my search results and they were great on my main web site. I checked a few days ago and my search results had really gone downhill. My plans have been to upgrade that main site to be responsive but I think I have it on more of a fast track right now. (fast track won't be for a few months though)

Freelancier
09-09-2015, 06:25 PM
It was so nice before I hit age 40.... I could look at small things and recognize what they were without squinting. Now I need reading glasses and figure out the optimal focal point to hold the item so I can see it.

Small devices are not going to replace my dual 27" monitors ever. But, then again, people who are in the business of making predictions like this are never held accountable when a prediction like "the next billion people to get online will be doing so on a mobile device" doesn't come true.

Harold Mansfield
09-09-2015, 06:33 PM
I will say, after I broke my 3rd 7" tablet I got a Note 4 with a 5.7" screen and haven't had the need to jump right out and get another 7" tablet.
But my desktop is still my preferred internet device. Followed by my 17" laptop. Even smaller laptops just don't do it for me. Not enough room.

I figure if I'm pulling out a laptop that means I need to do something that I can't do on my phone...probably work related, so why mess around with a 13" or 15" screen? I can't work on that.

Again, did I mention that I'm not 20 anymore? I like big viewing areas. Still haven't graduated to the super large font yet, so at least there's that.