Top reasons why mobile sites fail

Marketers have a cruel streak.Their is no other way to explain the torments inflictedon consumers trying to connect with on the mobile web. As smartphone penetration in the U.S. surges toward the 100 million mark, that’s 100 million cases of eyestrain, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Renowned usability experts describe this sorry state of affairs in dramatic terms. Observing users suffer during  usage is a reminder of the very first usability studies done with traditional websites in 1994. It was very bad.

The lack of transformation of mobile web since its inception some years back, mainly due to counter productive rages (viz a viz Angry Birds, Flippy Bird , Temple Run) resulted in nearly no advancement, which, considering the pace at which the world of technology changes, is equivalent to decades of stagnant experience.

So websites are already overdue to give consumers some relief from this jurassic mobile experiences. Our future path towards a better Mobile web is quite clear as these stats help us : dotMobi reports that only 29.7 percent of the web’s top 10,000 sites are optimized for mobile.and the demand for a better mobile experience is growing exponentially.While not exclusive, we have tried to summarize some of the more important reasons of failure of mobile websites.

1. Users can be anywhere, even next to your office.

Marketers love to talk about context, as the question of what consumers are doing when they encounter your brand has a lot to do with the success of the encounter. In mobile, location is context.

You not only need to care about where users are when they access your site, but you also need to care about it above all else. When I access the Lowe’s site on my Android, for instance, the company figures there’s a good chance I need to get to a Lowe’s right away. It offers to use device location and point us to the nearest store. But it also takes the location context a step further, touting its in-store pick-up service so my purchase can be ready when I get there.

It’s hard to accept the fact that when I visit Ikea on my device, the company is unable to ascertain which continent I’m on even though location detection is a core capability of the mobile-friendly HTML5 platform, present on almost all the smart devices today, which means that it’s easily and inexpensively within the reach of every brand with retail locations.  It forces me to find my country before I can find my store. Could this change a bit on the mobile platform? Definitely.

Isnt it awesome if you dont need to scroll through a long list to enter your location? I know, it is!

2. Mobile devices use thumbs, not a mouse pointer

3G smartphones created a monster. They allow full-featured traditional websites to be rendered on a mobile screen at reasonable speed, which has made us much lazier about actually building sites for mobile. Virtually everyone can now claim to having a mobile website, as long as that’s defined as “a site that shows up on a mobile device.”  This leads to the problem of thumbs, which are the devices that humans mainly use to navigate their mobile devices. A site built for a computer monitor/big screen cannot be successfully navigated by a thumb on a mobile device — unless unintended clicks is what we are after.

A good mobile site is built with touch in mind. It needs to be optimized to accept fingers as input methods, that have a thick round end, instead of pointy mouse clicks. Buttons need to be larger, navigation needs to be breezy and without doubt one handed.

I would never want to use the left one on my phone. What about you?

3. Customized Input forms

Forms are the bane of the mobile experience.  Since most sites still deliver poorly designed forms after a decade and a half on the traditional web, it’s not terribly surprising that mobile forms are even worse.

Lets take a look at a comparison

No way this is made for mobile!

Now, this is the way to go.

A user friendly input form can come a long way in improving the interaction so much so that it becomes an inviting option for users to fill it. User forms can make a large impact on the number of interactions on a website, be it mobile or traditional.

4. Maintaining Branding

Designed for the thumb, mobile sites are rarely as attractive or funtional as traditional sites, but they do not require to necessarily wipe off their brand story for a better layout. Online retailers tend to sacrifice their branding on their mobile sites for the sake of a better layout of the products. It’s a well-intentioned trade-off, but can often lead to a brand disconnect.

While creating a mobile experience, general assumption is that mobile users aren’t really looking at the branding of the page, figuring out what the company stands for or how it is different from others. But this assumption is very wrong.

A recent research on consumer use of retail mobile sites revealed that consumers tend to take a top-down approach, i.e. from a search engine to the top results followed by the best connected brands. Even price comparisons feature in the research. So, definitely, a brand that strikes a cord in the tradiotional web, will have a higher chance of success if it retains its brand image on the mobile world. We may conclude that  the brand story needs to be optimized for mobile as much as it is on the traditional web.

5. Other top reasons

Confusing menus

Page Structure

Navigation is a very important aspect of browsing, be it traditional web or mobile web. This makes it imperative that the menu structure is convenient to navigate. Long, horizontal menus or vertical menus dont work well on the small screen.
Multi column website is not the way to go while creating a mobile website. A properly structured , responsive webpage allows the users to get a better look at the content without having to scroll left and right.

Long loading times
Too much content

Mobile devices are generally not as powerful as PCs. Although this is changing very fast, but still there is a long path to travel. This makes heavy websites longer to load on a mobile device, even slowing it down to a point of making the device unusable. Customising the entire website for the mobile architecture solves this problem, making browsing on the device a breeze, even if its a low powered device.
Unfocused content creates heavy confusion , specially on a small screen. A mobile site needs to cover as much as possible without cluttering the site. This is usually one of the biggest turn offs on the mobile web.