When you think about someone accessing your nonprofit website from a mobile device, how do you picture them? I can imagine you’re thinking of someone who is in a hurry, maybe standing in line somewhere, at the airport or in a car. While that’s probably the case with a lot of your mobile audience, it’s not always true.
I heard a great talk at the IA Summit a few weeks ago that debunked many ideas and assumptions we’ve made about mobile context. As a designer of mobile experiences, I too am guilty of these assumptions. Josh Clark, the presenter, defined the 7 Deadly Mobile Myths as follows. You can also download the slides from his presentation here.
- Mobile users are rushed and distractedPer my illustration above, it’s easy to think of mobile users as always on-the-go but the reality is that people access the mobile web in many contexts like when they’re lying on the couch or trying to kill time on a 3 hour travel layover. Josh cited a statistic that 28% of mobile users in the US are “mostly mobile” users meaning they rarely use a laptop or desktop computer.
- Mobile = LessBecause users are not always rushed and distracted, they also don’t need a “lite” or dumbed-down experience from their mobile phone. Another statistic cited was that 85% of users expect your mobile site to be “at least as good” as your desktop site. Josh argued that users don’t like the “View Full Site” option and would rather be able to access all of your content in a mobile-friendly format. He said that omitting certain content on your mobile site is like an author leaving out chapters in a book!
- Complexity is a dirty wordSo we’re now challenged with providing the entirety of what could be a very complex nonprofit site in a mobile format that still feels uncomplicated and easy to use. Making the complicated seem uncomplicated. The nice thing for most of you reading this is that you can leave this challenge up to your designers. For the mobile designers out there, the next myth is really good news…
- Extra taps and clicks are evilWhen you’re dealing with such a small screen, the best approach is to use progressive disclosure. This means showing the user a little, and then having them click or tap to see more. We use this principle with navigation on a desktop website and it’s even more imperative with mobile. Josh said that the quality of the click or tap is far more important than the quantity.
- Gotta have a mobile websiteLet’s clarify here… you don’t need a separate mobile website. You still need to offer your constituents a mobile experience but Josh argued the best approach is to make your existing content mobile-friendly. Thanks to Convio CMS and other content management systems, this is not difficult. It does mean that you may have to start thinking a little differently when you create new content though. Perhaps there are additional fields you might need to add for each content item to make your mobile display work better.
- Mobile is about appsJosh stated that app vs. mobile website vs. desktop website are all just containers we use to present content. So apps definitely have a place in the mobile landscape but they’re not the end-all be-all. He played this NFL commercial to illustrate that users expect to access the same content across multiple devices. Again, this boils down to making sure your content is adaptable to all of these devices.
- CMS and APIs are for database nerdsGoing back to what I mentioned above, content management systems and APIs are the tools that we need to make our content adapt to all devices. Not just the devices we use today but the devices that we’ll be using in the future too. All we need to do is learn how to write content that will scale across multiple screen sizes and then rely on the CMS and API technology to control the display.
Do you agree or disagree with these mobile myths? What are some things you can start doing today to make sure your content is truly future-proof and adaptable to different devices?