Consumer On-the-Go: Catching them on the mobile web

Imagine, if you will, hanging out with a friend or two in a new place. Maybe a shopping centre, a mall or a street full of shops. And, perhaps we just forgot we didn’t have enough time to window shop for a good place and don’t have a computer nearby to research on what’s good around there. Or one of us has a strict vegetarian diet and can only have food at a place that has a vegetarian option. Or we need to see what movies are on in a different place we’ll be heading to later. We take out our mobile phones and start searching Googling.

Today, there are two types of consumers on-the-go: those who are patient enough to pinch-zoom everything and those with no time.

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Photo from: http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/

Some of us take the time to review products, services or places after we’re done, but more of us preview what we’d be getting ourselves into to save ourselves some time deciding what we want and (hopefully!) some disappointment.

Most companies today are taking a good step forward with web sites that are aesthetically appealing, so easy-on-the-eyes colour schemes, clear and readable fonts and obvious buttons for the different links that take us to wherever we want to go, whether it’s the menu or available services or products page, the home page, the feedback page, or the about page of the company or organisation. It makes information accessible and our processing of such information efficient.

So comes the tricky business of mobile web sites: why should we allow for the conversion of the original web site to fit a mobile format? And how about programming an app instead? Isn’t that more trendy?

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Photo from: http://blog.bellebethcooper.com/images/

 

I think now would be a good time to put a disclaimer: I am not an expert, and I am not a designer. However, I like to think of myself as a rational consumer and that there are a few things I would love to see more of.

For mobile web sites, the why question is obvious. Many people around us own a mobile phone, and much of those people have a smartphone. With the widespread availability of different data packages, we have Internet connection almost everywhere we go. It cuts the time we take to decide on what to do and where we want or need to go. We consume a lot of information as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Succinctness has become the key word for marketing success.

But, while I would love to use apps of service providers I frequently patronise (come on, who doesn’t have iris on their smartphones in Singapore?), I wouldn’t necessarily download them if I was just looking at them for the first time.

Developing apps has become a thing and it certainly makes for better adapting to the current trends of technology. However, apps take money to build to be efficient and to do its job. Even when we talk about simple-concept apps (say, something that has a form and basic elements to click on), coding is a massive investment of time as effort. It doesn’t necessarily always pay off, even ignoring the teething problems of such apps.

A smarter and more efficient way is simply ensuring that the website is readable on a mobile phone. Not just with the pinch-zoom functions of the touchscreens, but for times when it lags and one accidentally clicks on something else, wait for it to load, return to original page and try again and restart the process. I’ve rage-exited out a couple of websites this way and switched to a different service or product with a more user-friendly web service. This applies to news articles too, whether shared on Facebook, Twitter, email or even over text!

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Photo from: http://www.toolsformoney.com

Well, since we’re already in the age of the mobile web, why not start catching some flying customers?

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