Mobile Optimization vs Responsive Design?

Mobile Optimization vs Responsive Design?
May 24, 2016 Gerard Fane
Mobile Centric

Neither. Time to Start Thinking “Mobile Centric”.

Mobile marketing and digital channels continue to evolve at a near blinding pace, and marketers and brands struggle to keep up. Too often marketers are hampered by processes and technologies that fall short when it comes to creating engaging and meaningful mobile interactions between consumers and brands.

The mobile web world debated the pros and cons of mobile optimization versus responsive design as brands sought to deliver a great experience to the handheld device. Unfortunately, the conversations fixated on functions and interfaces as opposed to behaviors of mobile users.

Approaches to the mobile web were essentially offshoots of the Web as we knew it for desktops and laptops. The desktop user experience was shoehorned into the mobile user experience. It was a noble attempt, but in hindsight, the approach was akin to crafting the car driving experience based on what it was like to ride a horse.

It’s time to recast the approach to a “mobile centric” mindset. Mobile centric is about how people interact with the small screen to provide the best experience possible for that medium.  It acknowledges the types of activities people want to do and the way they do them. It takes into account the scarce amount of time people will invest in a mobile interaction. Keep in mind, even the best mobile experience can usually be measured in moments.

A mobile centric approach can succeed where mobile optimization and responsive design fall short. Many consumers no longer consider the mobile screen a secondary channel. Mobile is fast becoming a primary channel they use to gather information and begin a relationship with your brand. This is why brands need to move away from treating mobile as an offshoot of desktop and traditional web experiences.

Brian Solis, principal analyst with Altimeter Group, recently wrote about a similar shift in mindset. In his blog post he notes, Mobile is now both part of the customer experience and also emerging as a self-contained experiential platform.” Solis also notes that brands really need to take a closer look at the customer journey overall to remain relevant to customers as they become more mobile reliant.

To begin thinking mobile centric, marketers must put the needs of the user above all else, addressing the most common path users now take when using the internet. A mobile centric approach must:

Capture and retain attention with an immersive, elegant design focused on a natural user interaction flow formatted for optimal user experience.

Provide clear calls to action, such as registration, purchase, download, view – whatever action the brand wants customers to take.

Serve content in whatever channel the customer is living online, including Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS, etc. It has to work seamlessly across multiple mobile channels, because that’s where the users are.

With the mobile screen clearly moving from secondary channel to the primary channel for millions of people, smart marketers will take this opportunity to completely rethink their mobile mindset. A change is necessary because mobile is measured in moments.

When brands have a precious few seconds to gain a share of a consumer’s screen time, they must engage audiences where they are and on their terms. Mobile centric thinking achieves these objectives by optimizing on behaviors rather than optimizing a platform.

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