Mobile Search: Urgency and the Distraction Factor

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Mobile Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

What’s the main reason we perform web searches on our smartphones?

Urgency.

There’s some sort of information we need, immediately.

We want our news instantly, and our shopping, too.

Once we get the info we’re looking for, we’re motivated to take action. If it’s related to shopping we’ll buy something, right then and there, via our smartphone, or, if it’s a local search, we’re likely go to the place we just found online to make an in-store transaction.

Simple, right? Indeed, however, for companies and organizations there’s more to it.

From a business standpoint, the best way to capitalize on this user behavior is to understand how people search, and buy, while on a smartphone.  Don’t assume it’s the same as happens while surfing the web via a desktop computer. Because it’s not.

Cover shot to The Mobile Movement, a report by Google and IPSOS OTX Media CTA new report by Google and Ipsos OTX MediaCT, called the Mobile Movement, Understanding Smartphone Users offers insights into our smartphone habits. The study polled more than 5000 smartphone owners about their smartphone usage in general, and shopping habits, in particular.

The ubiquity of smartphones in our everyday lives

The study looked into general smartphone usage. Here are some of its findings:

Where do you use your smartphone?

93% home

87%  on-the-go, commuting or walking

77% in a store

73% in a restaurant

72% work

66% at a social gathering

54% café or coffee shop

53% doctor’s office

50% airport

32% library

29% school

What media related activities do you do while also using your smartphone

44% listen to music

33% watch TV

29% use the internet on a computer

27% play video games

22% read newspaper or magazine

16% read a book

What activities do you do while using a smartphone

59% wait (in line at the market, at a doctor’s office, for a bus, etc.)

48% eat

44% shop

40% socialize/entertain

39% use the bathroom

27% cook or do household chores

20% drive a vehicle

17% walk my dog

14% pump gas

13% play sports or exercise

8% take a shower or bath

Design your mobile website for multitasking

Basically, the majority of us will use our smartphone just about anywhere we can get a signal.  And when we’re goin’ mobile we’re usually multitasking. Our minds are only paying partial attention to our phone activity.

This has serious consequences for a business’ mobile web presence — one of the top ones being, your mobile site should be streamlined to readily enable users to find what they want, and complete tasks, in as few steps as possible. And yes, this is true for any website, but it’s even more critical in the mobile format.

You want a site where after someone clicks through to it from search results, the most important info is viewable at a glance. For one good example see how Burger King does it. And better still, the Burger King web server recognizes when a user is on a smartphone and automatically delivers the mobile site version:

Screen shot of the homepage to the Burger King mobile website

As opposed to this, from Coca Cola, which serves up about a ¾ version of its main website just like you’d get through a desktop computer. Note, some items on the lower right corner don’t even show up if you’re using an iPhone. Seriously Coke, you should know better:

Homepage to Coca Cola's website as seen on an iPhone

Mobile phone as personal shopping assistant

Of course, it’s no surprise to find out smartphones are used much like a mini netbook computer — after all, that is what they are, albeit one that has a phone attached to it. When in shopping mode a smartphone is our handy-dandy combination phone book, GPS, online catalog and price comparison device.  Of the 5000-plus people who participated in the Mobile Movement study:

74% used a smartphone to make a purchase

70% used a smartphone while shopping in a store

27% bought something via a mobile website

22% bought a product or service through an app

After finding that local info via a smartphone users were ready to swing into action:

61% called a business

59% visited a business

58% looked up business on a map or got directions

54% visited the website of a business

36% made a purchase from a business online

22% recommended a business/service to someone

20% read or wrote a review about a business

19% marked or added a business to my favorite list

Mobile search and sharing

These stats are a good indicator of how important it is for a business to optimize for local search. Also, it’s interesting to see how many users are recommending a business or service, writing a review or adding a business as a favorite. This is part of a growing trend where we want our web experience to be more personal and social. That’s why you want to make it easy for people to share and like your site.

For businesses the signal is coming in loud and clear: the time is now for mobile.

– Deni Kasrel

Have you seen good or bad examples of mobile websites? What are they? Your comments welcome.

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Why The Future Of Technology Is Simplicity

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: Mobile Technology, Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Do you enjoy trendspotting?

I sure do.

Hence those two recent blog posts: Communications Trends For 2010, Part 1 and Part 2.

It’s time to move on to other topics. But before doing so, I wanted to share one more thought about what’s next.

People who are not technologically inclined will determine the future of technology

This golden nugget was mined during a conversation with Avi Joseph. I was gathering fodder for Communications Trends For 2010 (Part 1). We were discussing how social mobile web applications — geo-tagging, for example — will become more prominent in the coming year. Avi offered this intriguing idea, which really got me thinking:

“If you want to imagine more, just ask a friend who is not so technical what they would like to see in a mobile phone, and like that, you will see the future. When you ask me, it’s not so accurate because we [you and I] are technologic people. What we are using my younger brother is not using… It’s better to ask him, ‘What would you like included in a phone that you don’t have today?’… You need to ask regular people.”

Avi asserted the future of mobile lies in the ability to make its technology easier to use. “People see all the icons and they are afraid. They wonder, ‘If I click on that what will happen?’ ”

It’s not how cool the tool is, but how easy it is to use

I admittedly had my doubts about that last one. I recently got an iPhone and was happy to poke around to discover all the neat stuff it could do.

Then I was enjoying dinner with a friend and mentioned my shiny new gadget. My friend asked to see the iPhone, and when I handed it to him a look of intimidation flashed across his face. Right away, he wondered out loud, “Wow, what are all these buttons for?”

My friend — who happens to be a child of the ‘60s, as we are so-called — uses a computer on a daily basis. He does Facebook, too; so the guy’s not a total technophobe. Still, the iPhone’s interface struck him as daunting.

This incident reminds me of Clay Shirky’s comment about how “technology only becomes socially interesting when it becomes technologically boring.” The idea being, it’s not how cool a tool is that determines whether it permeates society, but rather how simple that tool is to use.

Simple is in the eye of the beholder

On the other hand, I was chatting with my brother the other day and he mentioned his five year-old son was playing music on an iPod touch.

Ah kids, they do grow up digital these days.

– Deni Kasrel

Do you agree that the future of technology lies in simplicity? Or is it something else? Please share your thoughts. Comments welcome.

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