by Laurissa Gulich
You remember Halloween as a kid. Forget tiptoeing from house to house out of fear. No, you’re booking it from door to door trying to snatch up as much candy as possible before it’s gone, or at least before the good stuff runs out. Yes, you appreciate the standard Reese’s cups and fun size versions of every candy known to man, but every few houses you win big. I’m talking King Size Snickers, King Size Butterfingers. The real deal. You’re on cloud nine, until the unthinkable happens. An apple? Really? Who wants an apple on Halloween? Raisins? Please…I’m not waiting around for this.
Surfing the web on your smartphone often seems to replicate this rollercoaster ride that is trick-or-treating. The upsides and pitfalls of mobile site design are demonstrated in nearly every mobile surfing fairy tale… and nightmare. In a perfect world, you arrive on a site that has been designed for mobile. The page loads quickly, the images are scaled to the size of your screen, the navigation is effortless, and you find exactly what you’re looking for.
But as an experienced mobile user, you know that’s far from commonplace. Thus bringing us to the mobile surfing nightmare…
Dancing with Darkness
The screen goes blank. You wait…. and wait. Nothing happens. Father Time asks you to dance. The page is still loading, one microscopic pixel at a time. The load time for this site is positively frightening. Case in point: Trader Joes, Ticketmaster, Whole Foods, Burger King and Fox News. With a 3G connection, all of these mobile sites take 10 seconds or more to load, and these were designed specifically for mobile! Not only is it important to get your user to your site, but keeping them there and not making them wait is just as critical.
The Zoom of Doom
You’ve practically had enough time to dig your own grave by the time that website has finally loaded. You think it’s only uphill from here, so you move on. But the next boogeyman to battle is the zoom of doom. You’ve been there. Repeated zooming in and out, scrolling up and down, and left and right trying to figure out what in the world you’re looking at. This mainly happens when visiting sites that have not been designed for mobile.
Let’s take the US Rowing website, for example. Rowers and spectators frequent the site for up-to-date news, events, and results. This site provides an overwhelming amount of information, with a large part of it available from the homepage. However, nearly all of this information is microscopic in size at first glance. It’s essential to zoom in to even begin to read any of the content. Once it’s visible, you’re then left feeling lost as to where you are on the page, requiring you to zoom back out, scroll left and right, up or down. Talk about dreadful. If you haven’t bounced within the first ten seconds, you must already be familiar with the site because it’s nearly impossible to navigate without already knowing the layout.
Then there’s the other story, where you arrive on a site that’s been deceptively designed for mobile. That’s right, I’m talking responsive design. Whole Foods, let’s analyze your mobile site for a moment.
You start to scroll down, and you don’t stop. This homepage is never ending. It’s as if they tried to squeeze an encyclopedia of information (with images) on a small leaflet. What is this hocus pocus? Even with a top menu button to organize the sections, a plethora of information is presented on this homepage in what seems like a completely disorganized manner from a mobile perspective. What look like a few quick links at the bottom are not so quick to get to. Pure responsive design, you’re not fooling anyone.
Full of tricks and treats, the mobile web often leaves us hunting for more. Between dreadfully long load times, zooming in and out for hours on end, and haunting responsive designs, surfing the web via mobile is rarely all sunshine and rainbows.
So this Halloween, it’s time to give those knocking at your door exactly what they came for. Surprise them with well-planned menu navigation, just-the-right size images, and mobile-optimized content and calls to action. Give your mobile visitors a happy ending and avoid the inevitable swapping of one less desirable item for something else – the infamous candy trade – your site for your competitor’s. Because that would be a truly horrifying outcome.
Interested in learning more? Check out our 5 Tips for Creating a Truly Optimized Mobile Experience.
Happy Halloween from Bluetrain Mobile!