January 14, 2019 By Nick Powell, Optimization Architect

If the majority of your site traffic is viewing your experience on a mobile device, why over prioritize your desktop design? The goal of this piece is to call attention to a common opportunity I have observed as mobile becomes a shopping preference for many.

Designers and executives love building big beautiful web pages that showcase adventurous style scapes, feature functionality, and breathtaking imagery. These designs are researched, branded, calculated and strategically placed within the preferred 1366x768 frame. Then, as if an afterthought we say “oh yeah, we need that pesky mobile experience, let’s just make it responsive (because the Google algorithm will penalize us) and do nothing else!”

Recently, I came across such fantastic designs on a desktop experience viewed by ~30% of the company’s total traffic, whipped out my trusty iPhone 7 (totally not a plug, I miss my 5s but you know how those flippin contracts are, I digress) and viewed an experience that was definitely smaller, so small in fact that I couldn’t read half the text and had CTAs so small I had to use my pinky to tap them. In a world where your customers have tiny computers in their pockets, marketers need to start thinking about desktop and mobile as…..dare I say it….separate experiences.

Let me explain a little about mobile shoppers…

Just a few years ago, the sentiment was that a majority of the mobile audiences “browsed” via mobile and “bought” on desktop, data suggested that this was the case. What marketers didn’t realize was that many visitors would have actually preferred to make purchases via their mobile device, however, we (marketers) weren’t making it very easy for them. Now, potential customers are equipped with integrated and secure payment options, as well as larger, more powerful devices. This trend will continue and I posit that eventually the desktop experience will be viewed by a niche community. (psst... I have several colleagues where this is already the case, don’t tell anyone though)

The sudden rush of marketers to make “mobile-friendly experiences” as a result of The Google’s April 2015 “Mobile Friendly” announcement and subsequent Jan 2017 execution thereof may have left strategy out in the cold, as we can now see with the rise of responsive technology. I’m not saying responsive is such a bad thing, I can actually think of several examples where it is used quite effectively. What I will say is that it has made many marketers quite lazy.

Never forget, a little customer understanding goes a long way, a lot of customer understanding leads to a winning strategy. The recipe is just that, analyze your mobile audience to best communicate with them. Typically, mobile audiences perform best with functionally simplistic, visually attractive experiences that minimize unnecessary copy and work to streamline the checkout process. The most common challenges I find for mobile audiences are simple items like font size and/or spacing faux pas. Length-based friction induced by long blocks of text and relatively simple issues that wouldn’t be issues on the larger screen are all indications of mobile as a second thought experience. Move through your mobile experience and ask yourself, who is this for? You’ll get your answers that way, however, be prepared as you may suddenly realize you’ve been losing significant opportunities. I recommend placing your mobile audience and experience in its own bucket, that includes messaging and CRO activities.

Testing reveals behavioral differences between platforms. For example, mobile shoppers typically have a much lower attention span and my tests show a 70% higher elasticity to difficulty friction. This understanding stresses the importance of simple, to the point messaging and also providing an experience that is functionally easy to understand.

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