The Mobile Moment

November 13, 2013

I’ve been speaking at various events over the years, and during my presentation, I’ve asked the audience — mostly web content managers or program managers — one simple question:

"How many of you know your web mobile traffic?"

I see a couple confident hands go up and a few unsure stares with a few palms raised to their shoulders. For all those unsure hands, I’d like to share what the Digital Services Georgia team has learned and implemented for our mobile users.

  1. Know thy user.
    We all know how important it is to have web analytics that show how people use our websites. It’s one of the few ways you can tell how well or bad your website is performing.

    The biggest change I’ve seen in the past few years is the surge of mobile visits. In 2011 the mobile traffic on the GeorgiaGov platform was 4%. In 2012 it went up to 15% and this year it’s crossing 25%.
  2. A scaled website is not mobile friendly.
    We can no longer force a desktop experience shrunk down to a mobile screen. It takes extra effort for users to tap, pinch, and flick. We have to maximize the screen real estate instead of relying on users’ knowledge of touch screen gestures.

    Georgia was one of the first states to implement Responsive Design, which delivers a consistent mobile and desktop experience without having to host multiple versions of the site and duplicate efforts. In a Mashable article last year Pete Cashmore proclaimed 2013 The Year of Responsive Design. It’s quickly becoming the main way to deliver content to mobile users.

    Watch Christina Lingga speak about what Responsive Web Design is to understand why Digital Services Georgia chose Responsive as the preferred solution.
  3. It takes two.
    Responsive is not just a technology. It is an experience that relies on your content. Treat your content thinking of your mobile users.

    Web users have no patience for pages loaded with long paragraphs. Think about mobile users as if they were reading these pages through a peephole. They need to know all the key information but not be so overloaded with text and images that it’s difficult to read or download on devices.

    As Peter Lee pointed out in his talk Getting Ready For Responsive at GOVTalks: Mobile, content needs to be simple, straight to the point, and easy to read.
  4. Do you have an app for that?
    A recent survey showed that 60% of users are looking for information, while the other 40% are looking for an online service offered by the state. If your agency hosts web applications, check the mobile traffic to the app. Visit the app on a mobile device and see how they perform.

    Apps aren’t always the answer. Before deciding to invest in developing native apps for multiple operating systems, check if developing responsive web apps is an option for your agency.

Be ready for your users. Find out what your mobile traffic looks like and have a plan. Almost 1 of every 5 users visiting the website is a mobile user. If were not mobile friendly, we’d be sending them away with a sour experience.

Luke Wroblewski coined the term “mobile moment” in 2011 when Facebook’s mobile traffic surpassed its desktop traffic. There are a few agencies within the State that have already had their mobile moment. For many others it is approaching fast.

When is yours and are you ready when it hits you?

Nikhil Deshpande

About the Author

As Chief Digital Officer for the state of Georgia, Nikhil Deshpande leads the Office of Digital Services Georgia under the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA). 

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