14 July 2013 | MOF Team
With 4 billion mobile phones in use (of which 1.08 billion are smartphones) and over 110 million tablets in the world, mobile devices are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. They are even overtaking desktop devices: in 2011, for the first time, sales of smartphones and tablets were greater than those of PCs, and time spent with mobile apps (127 minutes per day) is starting to challenge television (168 minutes). The effects on brands are tremendous: online retailer ASOS brings in more than £1 million a month through mobile transactions; in 2011, 20% of online sales over Christmas were mobile-enabled, while in 2013 conversion rates from tablets exceeded those from desktop devices for the first time. The influence of mobile devices is also being felt beyond direct sales: brands are using mobile to build awareness through advertising and create affinity through customer care and loyalty programmes, and customers use mobile devices to conduct research- with 80% of consumers researching products online every week, up from 62% in 2009.
Thirty years ago, the Internet didn’t exist. Now, the average amount of time spent on the Internet daily is three hours for people in the US, of which about 30 minutes on mobile devices. People with mobile devices tend to carry them constantly- and therefore use them very frequently. The rise of smartphones and tablets; the availability of cheap and fast data thanks to competitive data bundles and 3G (with the expected launch of LTE/4G in 2014); and the development of cloud-enabled, NFC-enabled (Near Field Communication, which enables devices to share information when put in close proximity to each other), and location-based services, are all contributing to the increasing usefulness of mobile devices to people’s lives, with increasingly complex experiences delivered quickly and cheaply on ever-improving devices. It is therefore predicted that mobile web usage will overtake desktop by 2014.
Brands need to adapt to create great experiences for their customers because, as Nigel Vaz writes, "the brand is the experience and the experience is the brand". In other words, if the mobile experience is negative, people will gain a negative impression of the brand as a whole: 52 percent of users said they would be less likely to engage with a company if the mobile experience on their site was bad. And expectations of what constitutes a ‘good’ mobile experience are high: 40% will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on a mobile device, and 61% expect to find what they are looking for on a mobile site within 2 clicks. ‘Just because the screen is smaller doesn’t mean the obstacles are any less’, Vaz warns. But the effort of optimising a site for mobile devices is worthwhile: people spend three-and-a-half times longer and look at three-and-a-half times as many pages on optimised sites, compared with non-optimised… and yet 75% of the UK’s top 100 retailers do not have mobile-optimised versions of their website. As for apps, by 2011 more than 18 billion apps had been downloaded from the iTunes App Store alone, and yet 90% of apps are deleted after 30 days and 38% of people are not satisfied with their favourite brand’s app. There is room for improvement. The key thing, it seems, is to remember that mobile devices are not used in the same way as desktop devices: being constantly with the consumer, they are used for filling spare time, performing small jobs while on-the-go, and getting information fast. Design therefore needs to be simple, and information concise. What is clear is that mobile devices are the primary channel to create and fulfil demand in real time – and this means that they are at the forefront for innovation and business transformation.
Matter of Form eagerly take up the challenge presented by mobile design, whether for iOS or Android devices, and our experience so far ranges from transactional business systems to social platforms, games and publishing apps. Our web and mobile apps have been recognised by institutions such as BBC Labs, a sign that we are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to providing great customer experience on mobile devices.