When you engage with users on mobile devices, you have a limited period of time to keep their attention, and if you don’t please them, they’ll move onto to somebody that will.
That was the message from Scott Noonan of Boston Interactive earlier this month at The Gilbane Conference in Boston.
Noonan said that meant meeting your customers on whatever device they were using, and increasingly that means mobile. “If you’re not pleasing your users, you’re not just driving them away. You’re driving them to your competitors,” he told the audience.
Noonan said a lot of companies think you can just follow responsive design principles and make the web site fit whatever screen you happen to be using, but he says, there’s so much more to it than that.
He said it’s not just laying things out to fit on different size screens. It’s about typography and line spacing and how different elements are spaced out on the page –but most of all it’s putting user first and making life easy for them as you can.
He said marketers need to think about placement of elements like calls to action and menus and other elements the user interacts with. If there’s a form and it requires an email address, for instance, make sure the @ and .com are available on the keyboard to simplify data entry. If a field requires numbers, display the numbers for the users on dialing layout.
The trick is to put yourself in the mind of the user. What sites do you like and it’s likely it’s the ones that make it as easy they can for you. “When I have to fill out a form and it becomes too arduous for me, I just give up,” he explained. And you have to know that most people will join him.
He encouraged people to think about everything like detecting the quality of the connection and if the user is on a bad connection, reducing the number of graphical elements you’re serving because that will have an impact on their experience while they wait for the elements to appear on the page.
“We are not limited in what we can discover [about design and usability],” Noonan said. “We can change how and why we do things and react to user.”
Noonan pointed out that devices are constantly changing and it’s impossible for marketers and designers to keep up with the myriad of devices, screen sizes and other variables. He said we can’t think of a static world where nothing changes (which was the way it used to be in the early days of the web), but neither can we keep designing interfaces for all things because it’s impossible to keep up.
Responsive design might offer one solution to this problem, but Noonan said to watch out for easy answers. Just because we can shrink the design to match the screen size doesn’t mean we are meeting the needs of our users –and you have to constantly be paying attention to the details that make that user experience shine. Because if you don’t, they will be gone in an internet minute –and onto a competitor who does.
Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.