Mobile Web Design: Responsive vs Adaptive (vs Parallel)

Responsive web design is something of a current fad for brand sites. Some people will tell you it is the ONLY way to develop. However, as with all things technology, the tool of choice should be a strategic one – what is the brand trying to achieve and what is the best way to deliver it? Responsive design is great for some things, but it may not always be appropriate. A large eCommerce site, is a good example of where responsive design is problematic.
The approach will also impact on SEO. eConsultancy have published an excellent article on the considerations of mobile design on SEO (see diagram below):
Adaptive, responsive and parallel mobile design

A new look for New Look

Another week and another brand gets in on the mobile-retail act. This week it’s high street brand, New Look with their fully transactional mobile site. Designed and developed by MIG, the site was developed for speed and ease of navigation on mobile. In fact it ticks all the boxes on how to build a mobile retail site: one click purchase for registered users (and a fast registration process if you’re not a user), clear simple menus and social media integration to ‘like’ products.  For a clean, simple yet functional site, retailers would not go too far wrong in taking a leaf out of New Look’s book.

You can see the site by pointing your mobile phone to newlook.co.uk

Some suprising stats about mobile web usage worldwide

Mobile analysts, Royal Pingdom, have produced some surprising research regarding worldwide mobile web usage. Proportionately it is highest in Asia and Africa. Not only that, the most used handsets by far are Nokia’s running Symbian OS. Or is it really that surprising? Given that these are proportional figures comparing fixed vs mobile web, rather than volumes. In the UK for example, 20m+ people access the mobile web every month. That represents over 20% of mobile users, however proportionately the web usage only accounts for just a few percent. That’s because mobile access is shorter demonstrating a more ‘snacking’ behaviour. In large parts of Africa and Asia, fixed web is difficult to obtain, and mobile offers the only practical way to get online. Similarly with the handsets, the iPhones and BlackBerrys of this world are just not available in many of those countries. They are the places where Nokia dominate.

Some countries particularly stand out for their relatively high mobile web usage: in Nigeria it’s 25% and in India and Bangladesh it’s 15%. What the figures don’t tell us is what kind of web usage it is. Are they browsing mobile optimised sites? Social media? Or email? Certainly the predictions that mobile web will overtake the fixed web in the next few years look very realistic.

There’s an app for that? I’d rather use the web, thanks.

Whilst brands have been rushing to get their apps (and the iphone variety in particular) into the appstores, a study has found that most mobile shoppers would prefer to use the mobile web. An Orange study (Orange Exposure 2010) has found that 70% of people would prefer it that way. In many ways these figures are unsurprising. So many brand apps could have been done using the mobile web, at less cost and with a far greater reach. Marks and Spencer‘s understand this. They don’t do apps. Apps don’t reach many of their customers (an interesting side note to this is that men are far more interested in downloading apps than women). Instead they came up with a fully transactional site with 26,000 products. And people buy from it. Would they have achieved the same success with an app? Very unlikely. Although the ebay iphone app has been successful, the company has a very broad demographic, and a very good mobile website.

Mobile retail is currently small – around £125m in the UK – but set to grow. Figures from Verdict and Ovum suggest that mobile retail sales in the UK will more than double in the next two yours with 4% of online sales being made by mobile browsers. Given that only around 2% of the UK buy through their mobile at the moment, the potential there waiting to be realised.

You can get more mobile internet stats here.

Retail mCommerce: the bandwagon rolls on

I have previously blogged about how big retail through mobile phones is going to be. The bandwagon started a few months ago with Marks and Spencer’s mobile site, followed last month by John Lewis. Tesco Direct have now launched their own fully fledged mobile site at http://www.tesco.com/direct . As with their fellow mCommerce retailers, the site has all the mCommerce functions you would expect, and is part of a plan to mobile-ise many of the Tesco services/products. Based on the M&S experience it is clear that people will buy through their mobile phones where the site functions well and the brand is trusted.

Meanwhile, in the US, Barney’s have launched their own mobile site (http://m.barneys.com), selling luxury items. Are people going to buy expensive goods through their mobile phones? Given that eBay sold a $350k sports car through their mobile app, the answer is most certainly ‘yes’. Amazon already have revenues in excess of $1 billion globally through mCommerce and eBay expect to match that in the next 12 months, so expect to see an explosion of mobile-enable sites in the next year.