2011 was a breakout year for mobile Internet use. I’m not just referring to the growing number, size and power of smart phones and tablets or the near-universal availability of affordable Wi-Fi and cellular data networks. Mobile Internet users have also become more numerous, adventurous and sophisticated.
The truth is we’re playing catch-up with our users. If your mobile strategy is a year old, it’s time to throw it out and start fresh.
The “Common Wisdom” Around Mobile
For the early adopters, mobile Internet use isn’t new. We spent years addicted to our BlackBerrys, Moto Q’s and first generation iPhones, which allowed us to check the occasional website. Many of our preconceptions come from these early experiences – screens were small, bandwidth was at a premium, and many websites were marginally functional on our little lifelines to the digital world.
As the number of Internet-enabled mobile devices grew, we saw our opportunity to make the online world more hospitable. The percent of site visitors started growing and we made the case for creating an optimized mobile experience.
Given the struggles of accessing information on those early devices, we created a set of use cases for how users use the mobile Web. These assumed mobile users are typically on the go, and looking for phone numbers and addresses. In other words, we built mobile sites for users who need information while driving and operating their phone one-handed.
The result was small optimized mobile sites containing only a fraction of the content on the full website. Mobile sites included simplified navigation, big buttons for large fingers on small screens and few features for tight bandwidth limitations.
In research performed by Geonetric with 30 hospital and health system websites, the average site saw a 230% growth in mobile traffic from
January 2011 to January 2012. In that time, the percent of all visits coming from mobile devices grew from 4.6% to 11.5% with some individual sites seeing more than 20% of traffic coming from mobile devices!
The reality is that mobile users have changed. They’re no longer the early adopters. They don’t just use their smart phones and tablets when on the go.
Visitors no longer just want maps and directions. And they’re looking for more than just that physician directory. Careers, service information, health resources and even baby photos get lots of use on mobile devices.
All of your Web pages should be mobile-optimized for a range of screen sizes and device capabilities. Mobile isn’t just about phones and tablets anymore. Internet-connected devices are popping up everywhere. There are a variety of ways to surf the Web on your television, cars are coming with Android-based navigation and entertainment systems include a browser … you can even buy an Internet-connected refrigerator.
Of course, that might explain why the banana I ate this morning had a QR code…
Learn more about where mobile is going by watching our webinar Everything You Know About Mobile is Wrong.