Yesterday I showed you the results of some research I’ve done on the proportion of mobile traffic to business-to-business sites. At around 5% to 10%, it’s a small but significant sector …and one which is almost certainly growing. So who are these people, what are they doing on your site, and are you accommodating them?
First of all, remember that some visitors on mobile devices are using tablets like the iPad, so they’re seeing your site on a fairly decent sized screen, in a similar way to desktop PC vistors. However, there are considerations even here. Anyone who’s used an iPad to visit websites will be well aware that using a finger to hit links is not as precise as using a mouse, so your site will be irritating if you have tiny links and buttons, close together. Also, technology such as Flash doesn’t work, which can render some sites useless. Go grab an iPad and give your site a thorough test.
The remainder of mobile visitors are using smartphones, and this is where real problems can set in. Sites designed without any thought for such small screens (which means most sites designed more than three or four years ago) will probably be almost unusable. It’s becoming increasingly important either to have a separate site design which automatically kicks in when accessed on a smartphone, or a clever “responsive” design which adjusts to the viewing device. My guess is that most readers don’t have either on their sites yet. You’re going to need to eventually, so it ought to be now.
Again, you need to investigate your own site thoroughly on a range of smartphones, in particular an iPhone and an Android device (e.g Samsung, LG, Sony etc).
Do mobile visitors do anything different from desktop visitors? I’ve been comparing the pattern of usage across the two, and can’t see any obvious differences. As you might expect, a lot of smartphone visitors head straight for the “contact us” page, but so do more desktop visitors than you might think. However, that’s certainly one task which you should attempt to do on your own site using a smartphone.
I also found equivalent numbers accessing documentation, which might be surprising, given the poor viewing experience of PDF datasheets and manuals on a smartphone screen. However, needs must, and if somebody needs to access this sort of material on a mobile device, they must really need it …and it’s our job as website owners to make that as easy as possible, with a quick path to the relevant document and the smallest possible document file size.
If anyone has seen a really great mobile website from a business-to-business company, do draw attention to it in the comments section on the website. And if you haven’t seen Google’s “Get Mobile” site, I’d thoroughly recommend it.