The tide has turned in digital ecosystems. For much of the history of digital engagement, the desktop has been the main focus. Increasingly though user engagement from mobile devices has, in many cases, become the primary way in which consumers make first contact with businesses.
It’s estimated by GMSA’s 2019 State of Mobile Internet Connectivity report that more than 3.5 billion people connect to the internet thanks to mobile technology. In fact, mobile app usage increased by 40% this year.
The combination of modern phones becoming powerful computers in their own right and their ubiquity across consumers across all demographics has made having a robust mobile presence essential for businesses.
A post-COVID-19, mobile-first world
The importance of mobile presence and platforms has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has displaced workers and made home users reliant on online platforms for everything for their shopping, entertainment and social lives.
While the pandemic has transformed the very nature of South Africa’s economy in a matter of months, it has also highlighted a number of weaknesses.
South Africa, on the whole, lumbered along with major retailers and small businesses alike struggling to adapt to the sudden shutdown of a lot of our physical touchpoints and storefronts.
While a lot of the shortcomings were as a result of a lack of overall digital strategy and problems with scaling logistics for increased demand, the lack of strong mobile tools to enable consumers left many companies on the back foot.
They tried desperately to connect with their customers, who suddenly were freed from geographical limitations to their shopping and service options.
Nick Durrant of Bluegrass Digital, which provides digital solutions for businesses, recently highlighted the important conversation globally around developing “mobile-first” approaches to design.
While this has been a significant movement within digital design for years, Durrant points out that many in the industry misunderstand what “mobile-first” should mean when developing your digital platforms. Durrant says:
“A mobile-first design approach starts with the smallest screen resolutions, before working your way up to larger screen sizes. If you’ve ever visited a website on your mobile phone and the page isn’t designed to automatically fit different devices automatically, you’ll understand why this kind of thing is so important”.
This change in thinking doesn’t mean that the days of the desktop are at an end. Rather, companies need to change gears and focus on mobile as a separate and equally important channel, instead of seeing it as an afterthought.
As phones and tablets become more powerful, we can expect mobile experiences to become more rich and intuitive. This makes it even more important that businesses shift focus and embrace the powerful computers in their customers’ pockets.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you have a website, a mobi site, a PWA (progressive web app) or an app, you need to create something responsive, informative, easy to navigate and that provides clear directions and calls to action. If your platform doesn’t do this, it’s time to rethink your mobile strategy”..
Nick Durrant, Bluegrass Digital