October 22, 2012
More people are turning to their mobile devices to stay updated on everything from what's going on in the world to what's going on within their professional associations.
"Studies are showing that mobile usage is increasing dramatically, and it will only continue to increase," Jason Paganessi, CAE, vice president, business innovation, PCMA says.
While that mobile usage means more of your members can stay connected with your organization, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will. If your organization's website isn't optimized for smartphones and tablets, your audience may be disconnecting. In a recent survey from Google, 50 percent of respondents indicated that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly.
At PCMA, mobile is at the top of the innovation agenda. Paganessi says that PCMA is currently working on a project that will optimize the association's website for mobile and tablet devices, which will launch early next year.
As PCMA works on its own site, here's a look at how and why your organization should work to make the most of mobile opportunities, too.
The Differences of a Mobile Makeover
"Whether you're using a tablet or a smartphone, the screen is much smaller than a computer, so the site must accommodate that reduced real estate," Paganessi says.
Here are three key areas where that size matters:
- Navigation – While your desktop website may have a horizontal navigation bar, Paganessi says that most mobile sites use a single-column vertical format to easily jump to landing pages.
- Design – While lots of graphics may be key to your existing website, those graphics may not display properly on a mobile device. Plus, they may even slow down your loading time.
- Links – Remember that a mobile user replaces a mouse with a finger or thumb. Linking areas should be big to eliminate accidental clicks that point users to the wrong page.
Instead of creating a website that specifically meets the demands of different mobile and desktop tools, many organizations are adopting responsive design properties. These react to a user's screen space and automatically adjust the display of a web site to fit varying screen sizes.
Mobile Optimization Means Revenue Opportunities
In addition to enhancing the end-user experience, a mobile website can also enhance your bottom line.
"If you don't have a mobile-accessible website, your audience base may be more inclined to pass you over," Paganessi says. "For organizations that rely on advertising dollars, that can present a big problem. A mobile website can help increase your click counts and your site's viewing time."
"People are spending less time in front of their desktops," Paganessi adds. "As they spend more and more hours on their mobile devices, it's crucial to make that online experience as efficient and enjoyable as possible. The more eyeballs you can keep on your website, the more value you'll deliver to your advertisers."
Is Your Mobile App Enough?
Many organizations are investing in mobile app development, but it's important to recognize that a mobile app and a mobile-optimized website perform different functions.
"The basic difference between an app and a website is that an app requires a download and is available for use offline," Paganessi says. "The website is a public-facing interface accessible through any mobile browser."
In addition to a mobile site, Paganessi says that PCMA is also developing a new membership app for early 2013. The new project includes the on-the-go ability to view the membership directory, browse the Career Center and access other meeting planners tools.
Still, an app isn't the only answer.
"While your members or most loyal customers may download your app, the rest of your audience will most likely just view your website," Paganessi says. "In order to keep everyone happy, an app and a mobile-ready site are each equally essential."
Take the First Step Toward Mobile Success
Need help getting started? Google's GoMo gives you the ability to test how your website is currently performing on mobile devices. Just enter your existing URL for a list of recommendations.