Not all visitors are created equal – thoughts on mobile design

Google's offices at Central St Giles, London

Google’s offices at Central St Giles

Sometimes you need a different perspective as a spur to action. I’ve been reflecting on mobile both for my own personal web site, which is overdue a revamp (the vanity project), and at work, where we’re targeting business to business (B2B).

Google kindly provided the new perspective this morning where I was lucky enough to meet with digital professionals to talk about mobile. The new view wasn’t just Google’s building at Central St Giles, a building whose construction I’d somehow not noticed – it’s on a corner I hadn’t rounded recently. But as you can see from the image from the landlords, it’s quite a site – bold childlike colours soaring above the other building works going on around Tottenham Court Road. Actually the new viewpoint came from the discussions we held around the table.

Speaking with people from other companies is a brilliant way to give your brain a kick – and a chance to see the bleeding obvious.

Steve Hickey from EKM Powerhouse and Google’s Neil Halpin tackled the subject of converting your mobile visitors, albeit in different ways. Neil covered much of the analytics side: the challenge of understanding mobile visits as a part of the customer journey – particularly the realisation that a visitor might have come to your site many times on many different devices.  Steve Hickey showed how they’ve designed their sites and apps to help their visitors and eventual customers to accomplish different tasks.

Where B2C has been, B2B is sure to follow. Especially as businesses seek to build systems of engagement for their visitors. Mobile is what people are using outside work – they’ll soon expect to use it at work. But how to do it?

We revisited the debate about dedicated mobile web sites vs responsive designs vs mobile apps. Mark Gristock from Psychle did a good job presenting the pros and cons of each approach.  Responsive designs have the advantage that you can write your site once, which minimises rework when it changes – something that is very persuasive if you’re as dilatory as I am at updating my own site (it’s a cheerful fossil of my efforts from five years ago – but watch this space) and the Kosibah web site, which could do with a tweak to work better on mobile devices.

At work we’ve noticed that a small proportion of our site visitors are using mobile. We aren’t that surprised – after all, it’s an enterprise software site, and people are probably at work when they’re evaluating software, even now that we have more that appeals to small and medium sized businesses.

But what sort of visitors are they? That’s where I got my main inspiration from the event. Google’s Hanne Tuomisto-inch showed just how intensively executives use mobile. That makes a lot of sense – they’re on the move, and they are time-poor. They’re not going to boot up their desktops, or even their laptops, to do a bit of research. They’re going to reach for the nearest mobile phone or tablet to do their research when it’s immediately relevant.

And those are the kind of people we’re trying to attract on our B2B site. It seems obvious really but sometimes you have to have the plain truth told in a different context to see it: the visitors we want, while a small proportion of our site visitors (not everyone’s a CEO or CMO after all), are probably predominately using mobile to browse.

So that’s why we need to redouble our mobile efforts. It’s not for everybody, but it is for everybody who counts.

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One Response to Not all visitors are created equal – thoughts on mobile design

  1. Ah St. Giles – did you get to see the allotments on the roof and the YouTube Studio too? Very impressive offices.

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