Of all the local searches performed on the Internet, one half are done through a mobile device. When you consider that there are 4 billion mobile phones in use around the world, 1.08 million of which are smart phones, the numbers really start to add up. But what does that mean for your storage customers?
The self-storage industry has been experiencing rapid modernization, especially in the field of mobile marketing. In this year alone, the percentage of self-storage web activity on mobile devices went from 2% to 10% of the total web traffic self-storage receives, according to an article by Dan Hobin for Inside Self Storage. At this rate of increase, it’s projected that mobile will account for approximately half of the total self-storage web traffic by next year.
This follows a continuing trend in mobile use statistics, which predict the mobile Internet will overtake computer-based Internet usage by as early as 2014.
So, where do you begin optimizing your website for increasingly mobile consumers? I asked web developer Jeffrey “Steve” Cherewaty of SpareFoot.com to weigh in on some best practices.
Be a minimalist
“Accessing the web on a mobile device is a very different experience than browsing on your PC,” he said. “There’s a lot less screen real estate.”
This means the content on your website must be arranged to be easily visible on a smart phone’s touch screen. But it’s not a simple matter of shrinking everything down to fit. Information processing is much more expensive on a smartphone’s data plan, so content needs to be trimmed down to communicate a few main points of interest– pricing, location, hours, and contact info. Jeff equated mobile web design to the “inverted pyramid” concept in journalism, in which a general overview precedes smaller details to maximize accessibility and optimize the flow of information.
Allow for fat fingers
That said, the graphical component to your mobile site is a valuable part of making your facility accessible. Just like on your main site, eye-catching relevant photos are important for sustaining a visitor’s attention and communicating the look and feel of your facility. Jeff advised web developers to compress images more than they do on a standard web page, to accommodate for mobile web’s limited data availability— “Believe me, your visitors’ phone bills will appreciate it,” he said.
Improve ease-of-use with big buttons for clumsy fingers. Jeff warns if you have to zoom in to access any of the links, you need to adjust the design of your page.
“The biggest mistake website creators make when developing a mobile analog to a site is working on the wrong scale,” he explained. “Desktop PC users are used to a keyboard or mouse that controls a cursor, but mobile touchscreen devices are far less precise.”
Mobile Internet is an exciting development for self-storage marketing that presents potential challenges and lucrative opportunities for the industry. But the fact that it’s a rapidly developing trend doesn’t mean it’s a necessity in your particular market. Before expending too much of your time, effort and funds taking your facility to the mobile web, assess whether your customer base stands to benefit.