How To Poison The Mobile User

How To Poison The Mobile User

Written by / Courtesy of Smashing Magazine

One of the most popular children’s television heroes here in the Czech Republic is The Little Mole, an innocent, speechless and cheerful creature who helps other animals in the forest.

TV heroes often fight against people who destroy their natural environment. When watching The Little Mole with my kids, I sometimes picture him as a mobile website user. Do you want to know why?

We, as web designers, often treat our users the same way the “bad guys” treat The Little Mole, especially on mobile websites.

One episode of the series is particularly dramatic. An old man tries to get rid of the mole in the garden by any means and eventually tries to poison him. Web designers do the same thing when they make it difficult to use the mobile version of a website and try to “poison” the user, eventually making them leave the website.

So let’s be a little sarcastic today and try to poison the mobile user. How does that sound? Just follow my instructions.

Let’s make a slow website, disable zooming, hide the navigation and fill up the page with fixed-positioned elements. I’ll bet the poor mobile user won’t be able to survive this.

1. Make The Website Load Slowly

Making the website load slowly is the best weapon against the mobile user. Can the visitor go to and return from the post office before the website has finished loading? Then you’re doing a great job! You are poisoning the mobile user effectively.

Now, let’s be serious. The transmission speed of mobile networks is slow, and even though speeds are increasing to 3G and 4G, the networks aren’t everywhere, and they just can’t compete with wired ones.

Various test and surveys show that the website speed has a significant impact on conversions and a website’s overall effectiveness. The user shouldn’t have to wait more than a couple of seconds for a website to render, even when using an EDGE connection.

Moreover, don’t forget that website speed is one of the criteria that Google considers for search results and AdWords campaigns. Therefore, it affects not only conversions but also whether users will land on your website at all.

The solution is quite simple: Think about speed when you are developing a website’s concept. Start with a performance budget.

Optimizing speed is not that complicated. Let me share with you some best practices from Google:

Don’t have time to read this now? I completely understand. Save the text for later. Fortunately, tools are available to tell you what is wrong with your website. First, test your website with PageSpeed Insights, and then continue to WebPagetest.

The user will never come back.

It is true that various studies on carousels do not explicitly say they are inappropriate. However, carousels are complicated both in implementation and for the user experience. So, using them is risky.

How To Poison The Mobile User

Nike’s carousel (left) does not make it clear that the content continues to the right. Best Buy’s (right) does it better: Subsequent items are visible, and therefore it is evident you can scroll to the right.

It is highly probable that, by using carousels, you will be hiding some content, instead of promoting it. According to some surveys, the vast majority of users see only the first image, and banner-based carousels are usually just ignored because of “banner blindness.”

If you plan to use a mobile carousel, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • Don’t use the carousel just as eye candy or to hide unnecessary content.
    Carousels are great at advertising secondary content that is related to the main content.
  • Use the first slide to announce the other slides.
    The main purpose of that first slide is entice the user to view the second and third slides.
  • Make the navigation usable on small phones.
    Those small dots used as navigation on the desktop do not count as “usable” on mobile phones!
  • Make sure custom gestures don’t conflict with default browser gestures.
    Are you using the swipe gesture? Make sure it does not conflict with a built-in browser gesture.
  • Don’t slow down the website.
    This has to do primarily with data demand and implementation of the carousel.

Continue reading the original article over at Smashing Magazine.