Mobile is how people connect to the internet in 2016.
Seriously: There are 2 billion mobile users, and roughly 1.2 billion of these users browse the web from their phones, according to stats compiled by data center and security firm Radware. A quarter of these mobile users only use their phones for web browsing. That’s pretty meaningful.
What’s more, smartphones are not just being used; they are dominating other devices as the primary way people get online. Roughly 86 percent of internet use for the average person comes through their phone, Smart Insights has found.
“Mobile is increasingly dominating the e-commerce space,” stresses Tony Zhao, founder of real-time video chat company Agora.io.
He points out that more than half of all e-commerce traffic now happens on mobile devices and that mobile e-commerce is growing almost 50 percent faster than traditional online shopping.
“People socialize on their phones, they shop on their phones—mobile is an essential tool that most people are interacting with 24 hours a day,” Tony Zhao notes.
A mobile strategy, therefore, is paramount for most businesses. But the trick isn’t recognizing that mobile is important, it is avoiding the implementation challenges that hinder many a mobile strategy.
Here are five of the top problems that businesses face when implementing mobile, and how to avoid them.
Problem #1: Designing for Mobile and Desktop
Mobile is not the same experience as desktop browsing; plus there is the additional challenge of supporting a range of screen sizes and connectivity speeds. The first issue firms must face is how to support all these various devices and in a way that doesn’t require too many added resources. With 90 percent of all users working from more than one device to accomplish their goals, according to the Radware stats, your business must have a flexible online presence.
There are three basic options: dedicated mobile sites, responsive web sites that adapt to the screen of the device in question, and dedicated mobile apps that require more work but offer greater functionality and easier use.
The emerging consensus is to use a responsive web site design that doesn’t force the concurrent maintenance of two different sites. If a business has more resources, it might also supplement this responsive web site with a dedicated mobile app that brings a rich mobile experience.
Problem #2: Not Loading Fast Enough
When an app or web site takes more than three seconds to load on mobile, viewership drops by 57 percent, according to PhocusWright. Four out of five of these visitors who abandon the site will never return.
It is incumbent, therefore, that businesses address load times when implementing their mobile strategy; Amazon once noted that it loses 1 percent of its sales for every 100ms of delay in its web applications.
The fix is liberal use of content delivery networks that store a copy of content at the edge of the network, hosting solutions that scale easily, and sites optimized for quick loading.
Problem #3: Network Slowdowns
Mobile users are a fickle lot, as we’ve noted. Although smartphone-wielding consumers are active shoppers, they also abandon up to 97 percent of all mobile shopping carts, according to Radware. This can be attributed in part to variable connection speeds and network slowdowns that typically befall mobile users; connections are anything but stable.
This is a huge issue for businesses. Even if they have mobile offerings that are fast, they still could lose visitors; it has been shown that every 500ms of load time increases the frustration level of mobile users by 26 percent.
The workaround is focusing on quality of service guarantees for hosting and cloud services and ruthlessly optimizing mobile sites for fast loading.
Problem #4: Building Mobile Features
At the same time mobile design must vary from that of web sites meant for personal computers, your business also must make sure its mobile strategy recognizes that interaction via mobile device is different; there’s a need for features that recognize the limitations of the mobile platform and also play to its strengths.
Good mobile strategy should provide consumers, customers, and clients with more payment options, more company interaction options, and more long-term engagement opportunities—features tailored to the mobile experience. Mobile sites also should make social sharing easy and use e-commerce systems that don’t require many taps.
Problem #5: Voice Interactivity
Speaking of mobile features, one problem that many businesses face when implementing their mobile strategy is figuring out how to embrace voice interactivity.
With their small screens, mobile devices are not the most efficient way to navigate through web site menus. Features like Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant, Siri, also have encouraged mobile users to expect a higher degree of verbal interactivity.
Whether implementing a mobile site or using an app, one way to address the voice interactivity issue is through the use of real-time communications. WebRTC, an open-source technology originally pioneered by Google, enables businesses to include click-to-call and voice and video-based community interaction with only a few lines of code.
Implementing a good mobile strategy is about more than just offering a mobile version of your web site. It also means mobile-specific features, performance management, network assurance, and voice capabilities, among others. Businesses that recognize the importance of mobile will not only define a mobile strategy, they also will make sure to address the five challenges mentioned.
JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance writer who enjoys writing about a myriad of topics, including business and technology. You can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton