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Is Your Online Community Mobile Friendly?

Posted by Mel Attia on Aug 18, 2015 10:11:53 AM

4 minute read

How Will Your Community Fare in tWhen was the last time you made an impulse purchase? If you’re like me, you used your smartphone to do a quick look up online for reviews before checking out. Turns out, 82% of shoppers do the same thing. What does this mean for your business? If you have a customer community, chances are, it features great reviews and discussions around your products. Those discussion could influence the buyer positively… If they can successfully get to it from their phone.

One of the biggest changes to the online marketplace in the past few years is that a fantastic mobile experience has stopped being optional. For too long, mobile was seen as a bonus, an optional extra credit for businesses that attracted a lot of mobile traffic. Now that’s every business, and customer expectations for mobile experiences have never been higher. Everyone reading this is likely to own a smartphone, and a majority of you are using it to read this blog. It’s no surprise then, that your new and returning community members are going to demand a rich, branded and device responsive experience when using their phones.

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Average time spent with major media per day in the US as of April 2015

US adults spend 171 minutes per day on their smartphones and tablets doing non-voice activities. That’s 20% more than using a desktop or laptop computer. -Statista.

Online Communities Have to Adapt

Your online community is inevitably going to be visited for mobile devices. If your members (and prospective customers) have a bad experience, their business is going to be lost. How serious is this? 75% of all shoppers access product information on their smartphones from in store. The information that they find is going to make or break their purchasing decision. If your content isn’t the easiest to find and view, there are a multitude of other options available to them on sites that you have no control over. With Google now prioritising results which work well on the device of the person searching, your content might not show up at all.

What You Can do About it

The importance of a mobile friendly community should be clear, but what can you do with that knowledge? There are a few ways you can ensure that your community isn’t left behind in the mobile revolution:

Make Sure Your Community is Finger-Friendly

Your visitors are used to operating in a mobile environment. If your community is optimised for a mouse and keyboard, things will get frustrating quickly. Common signs of finger-unfriendliness are a need for constant zooming and unzooming and “sniper-clicking”. If you see someone desperately using the very tips of their fingers to try and navigate your community, something is wrong.

Optimise Your Page-Load Times

Page load is absolutely crucial to any online content, but even more so for mobile users. If a visitor is on a tenuous 3G connection, any inefficiencies in your page load are going to be magnified. According to Kissmetrics 40% of visitors abandon pages that take more than 3 seconds to load. As user expectations increase in coming years, this number is going to look increasingly conservative.

Have a Great Layout

Don’t make your mobile users scroll endlessly to get to your content. Remove your desktop top-of-page elements and allow them to get to the content directly. Make finding relevant content on your site painless for mobile users.

Stay Away From External Mobile Apps

Relying  on external apps can be the kiss of death for your community. Google recently published the results of a study on app download interstitials, and the results were grim. 69% of visitors abandoned the page altogether! Focus on reactive content rather than expecting your customers to go out of their way to view your content. These external apps simply don’t work for mobile customers.

Update

Google has announced as of May 2016, "we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly." If you haven't gotten yourself a mobile friendly community yet, let's chat.

Topics: News, Product

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