Mobile marketing websites: commit to task completion priority
This is a week to “think mobile” as I work to update my mobile marketing tutorial presentation for the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education on November 7. Should be a rapid 3.5 hours and I’m really looking forward to meeting the people who are signed up for it.
A University Web Developers discussion last Thursday and Friday gave fresh insight into the technical challenges of building a mobile website in response to two questions from Karole Schroeder at Tarleton State University:
- How are you detecting a mobile device and directing the user to a mobile version?
- What (technical) standard are you using for your mobile version?
Information, advice, and opinion came along from 10 people. As you’d expect, the technical approach varies among campuses and depends very much on the system already in use.
From a marketing communications perspective, two elements stood out to me:
Mobile sites: start at the regular home page or a mobile-friendly page?
- First, there are different opinions as to whether or not a person accessing a mobile site should arrive first at the regular home page with an option to go to the mobile version or should be sent directly to the mobile version (with an option to visit the regular site).
- I agree with those who believe it is best to send people directly to the mobile version. The reason is simple: if you are aiming for a strong first impression, that is not likely to come from squinting at a traditional home page on an iPhone or Android screen. Create a new, simple mobile-friendly home page and get people to it as quickly as possible.
The most important element: reducing content for easier task completion
- Second was a point mentioned by Frank Adelle at Emory University: “A key to doing this (creating a mobile site) successfully seems to be focusing on only the content users will need.” Amen!
Adelle hit on a seldom mentioned but key point in creating a mobile site: the opportunity to leave behind the massive amount of content that is seldom or never visited. Focus instead on the key tasks that your primary audiences will want to do on the site. If content isn’t needed to get those tasks done, why waste time and dollars adapting it to a mobile.
Excessive content makes quick, clear navigation for easy task completion more difficult to achieve. A combination of inertia, scarce resources, and politics makes eliminating web content a special challenge. Creators of mobile-friendly sites should leverage the scarce resource element to leave behind mission statements, messages from presidents and deans, and pages that speak of the dedication to student service of the offices that created them.
Important for student recruitment: home page link to academic majors
If you have responsibility for student recruitment, remember the most important task for most potential students visiting your site for the first time: finding out what majors you offer. Don’t give up until you get a direct link from the mobile home page to your list of academic majors.
Three places that get this right:
at http://m.cofc.edu: “Academic” is 2nd of 8 primary links. Collegeof Charleston
at www.evansville.edu/mobile/: “Areas of Study” is 4th of 9 links. Universityof Evansville
at www.uchicago.edu/m: “Academics” is 3rd of 13 menu links. Universityof Chicago
That’s all for now
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