The Dinosaurs Died Because They Ignored Mobile

Well, not really, but maybe you could argue that that asteroid was a kind of “mobile”. And while those creatures would have been powerless to change their fate – extinction – today’s businesses are much better equipped to survive, if they take prudent and timely action. Which leads to the question…

Are You Ignoring Mobile?

We are hear the chatter about how important mobile is. But are you taking any action?

According to comScore (here and here), mobile penetration now stands at 62% in the US. That’s just shy of 150 MILLION people using mobile devices. And they are searching, streaming music, looking up directions, fetching stock quotes, checking the weather and so much more. Mostly the everyday stuff, in reality, but that “search” one…that’s a biggie folks.

That’s where people connect with you on mobile. This is where your experience on mobile can make or break a customer’s impression of you.

When was the last time you viewed your site on an emulator? They are a great way to get at least some view into how your site will render on various devices. Emulators exist for pretty much everything on the market today. You’ll need to research emulators, though, as many are specific not only to a device, but sometimes to an OS (operating system) as well.

Now, it’s important to note here, that not all this mobile activity is happening on smartphones. ComScore doesn’t break it out in the above article, but some of this activity is happening on tablets, so test on them, too.

And, with the next generation of gaming/entertainment consoles set to invade store shelves in the coming few weeks or so, now is also the time to see what your website looks like on a big screen TV! Don’t skip this as more and more people are searching, and engaging websites, from these devices. Does your site render well on a big screen television? Are you looking through data to determine how much, if any, traffic originates from these sources?

Sometime in early 2014 we’re looking at a convergence. It’ll be the first time that mobile queries will surpass desktop queries. And that trend is unlikely to ever reverse itself.

Here are some stats from an article built around Cisco data earlier this year.

  • Between 2012 and 2017, wireless data traffic was projected to grow 66% per year.
  • By 2017, mobile data traffic will reach 13x what it was in early 2013 – roughly 11 exabytes of data per month.
  • Annual smartphone data traffic will grow by 81% each year.
  • Tablets will ring it at over 110% growth per year.

Last holiday season, starting on Black Friday and continuing through Cyber Monday, the US saw the biggest growth in mobile device sales and mobile ecommerce transaction ever.

We’ve been reminding businesses for a couple years now to move away from m-dot domains in favor of responsive design, and that message remains.

And if you have an app, you’d better make sure it works correctly every time. No excuses for out of date code, small problems or anything else. If it creates a negative experience for a customer, you need to fix it and fix it fast.

I have one app that’s supposed to allow me to checkin for my flights. Except it only works once. Then, for all subsequent flights, I need to uninstall and reload the app. Yeah, even their customer support folks agree this isn’t ideal. And yet, this problem has existed with this app for months now. Clearly no one is testing or checking.

To compound the failure, their customer service team, while very responsive, doesn’t seem to be empowered enough to even ask the app team about the problem. Clearly disconnected teams.

And while this failure is partially in how the business structures who handles which elements, it remains a problem for me as I’m the one on my mobile device trying to use their busted service.

Seeing that this is happening is pretty easy, if part of their ongoing program is to review the current product on a frequent basis. Instead, it’s broken, leads to customer dissatisfaction and ultimately affects loyalty.

Wrapping up, it’s time to move on mobile in a big way folks. Businesses will get left behind as consumer perceptions shift to match what’s desired in these new mobile experiences. Today is the day to start planning how you’ll engage with customers via mobile, what resources you’ll devote to the effort, and exploring when/if you should move to responsive design. If you’re not at the planning stage now, you’re in jeopardy of falling behind.

Duane Forrester
Sr. Product Manager