The Key to Mastering Mobile is Understanding Mindset - AJ Vernet

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Cover image for  article: The Key to Mastering Mobile is Understanding Mindset - AJ Vernet

Like you, since time has become so precious, I have had to learn how to become efficient, get the most out of my day and maximize every ounce of work time. In my quest to become efficient, I have learned a few vital things over the past year to help me do more. The most important thing I learned is how to get my work done while being on the road. Mobile is clearly my key to mastery.

But, you see, mastery means masteringall of mymobile devices at once in order to survive and have a life. Not just mastering one.

It's amazing what I can do with a Blackberry and iPhone 4S at my fingertips. I can check emails, book trips, build proposals, close deals, check creative, watch programs, listen to music, capture moments, host meetings and research almost anything I need via those two devices. I am living across devices, just as today's most avid consumer. To engage, delight and service this dexterous consumer -- marketers need to hit a number of cords. They too must master mobile, because it is our preferred mode, across more devices than one. In seeking such mastery, they should heed these key trends:

· More people will be viewing site content on mobile than on desktop by 2014. Marketers must understand what this means for mindset.

· Smart phones outsell PCs now; that trend will persist. Assume this is the environment of choice for most consumers all day long.

· There is an increasing desire to streamline the complexity of content. Desktop sites have tons of info; mobile is usually boiled down to the most vital.

· Images - you have a screen the size of a Post-It note on mobile vs. a legal pad on a desktop. Your developers should keep in mind download times and processor power of mobile devices.

· Navigation and functionality. Global nav is the most important part, sub navs can get lost on mobile. If you do the mobile first, you can incorporate some of the unique attributes of the mobile experience – GPS, touch gestures. Think through the trade-offs when developing navigation for these environments.

Here are a couple of my favorite examples of approaches marketers and developers can use to respond to the mindset and mode of today's mobile consumer:

Content Complexity

ChicagoTribune.com and mobile.ChicagoTribune.com both pack a lot of information onto their respective screens – primarily headlines and thumbnail images. For a user on desktop or mobile, they're able to scan the headlines (literally) and dive deeper into a story with a click. For mobile users, this design allows them to rapidly get to articles of interest without wasted time and cumbersome data downloads.

Contrast this with the approach of NYTimes.com. Its sites for both desktop and mobile are the same: headline and typically the lead sentence of each article, which is busy enough on a full-sized screen, but on a mobile device, most is illegible. To be fair, the New York Times has a very good mobile app, but they could have accomplished much with a well-conceived site design.

Picture the user of the mobile site as someone standing waiting for a train or a lunch meeting. They have a couple of minutes and they need to get to the meat of the content in seconds. The site you're designing needs to take both users into consideration, and more often than not, they're the mobile users.

Navigation

Milwaukee Public Schools' site m.milwaukee.k12.wi.us is GPS enabled. It allows parents to find schools based on their current location. While this function can be executed with a data entry by a user against a database of schools, this reduces an additional layer of typing (and even mistyping) by a user, while presenting all sorts of opportunities for localization of a user experience and sales for business such as live events companies or closest retail locations. This function can help pinpoint where users are and bring them to you, while they're already trying to connect with you.

GPS doesn't have to be all business. Instead of a more traditional GPS in a golf cart to let golfers know yardage from their ball to the whole, golf courses are putting GPS onto their mobile websites to help golfers in the midst of a game. The site www.wilmargolf.com is one such course to take advantage of the device capability.

You see, anymore, the consumers' preferred mode -- the one in which he or she feels most productive, connected, thriving -- spans devices and environments. It may seem daunting to try to keep up with these gymnastics. So, the trick to well executed mobile is paying attention to the usage trends and thinking through the best approaches to maximize engagement and satisfaction within these environments. And, there's nothing wrong with mirroring tried and true approaches used by brands whose sites and mobile executions consumers just happen to dig.

AJ Vernet is Founder and CEO of Rey Interactive, which is a Los Angeles and New York based digital and video production company positioned to partner with agencies, creative firms, publishers and brands as a scalable and seamless production resource. AJ can be reached at aj@reyinteractive.com.

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