Mobile Devices

Why Everything You Thought About Mobile Might Be Wrong

  |  January 10, 2014   |  Comments

When was the last time you and your executives watched users try to find things on your mobile experience?

Today marks my 13th anniversary writing for ClickZ. I have seen change happen more slowly than I believed possible and more rapidly than I could notice in this evolving digital marketing space. So, is 2014 the year of mobile?

Do you remember every time over the last decade, when everyone claimed the year of mobile was just about around the corner? We all know how many times the year of mobile didn't happen. When Apple released the iPhone and Google released Android, I told clients early on not to rush. My reasoning was that they already had enough trouble selling on 15" and 17" monitors. Why did they think they were going to do any better on 2"-4" inch screens?

As we all know mobile traffic is increasing, but the behavior fundamentally differs than that of desktop behavior. If you think of desktop searching, browsing and shopping as sitting down for a full course meal, you have to think of mobile as grabbing a snack on the go. The same conversion killing phenomenon that occurs on websites is only amplified on mobile. The challenge is getting prospective customers to the right content, product or offer.

The number one reason most people don't convert is because your navigation, internal search or even the pages you land them on don't contain the information for what they were looking for. We all struggle with this findability problem. At the highest level not only would they find the right content or product, but also how it is presented would also be persuasive. Jeffrey and I teach about the hierarchy of optimization:


The problem is most mobile experiences barely make it past functional or accessible in terms of findability. We've all been frustrated by trying to find some product on some retailers website or some piece of content on a B2B vendor's website. Recently, BloomReach conducted a findability study with the help of Check out some of the highlights (it's painful) in the video below:

When was the last time you and your executives watched users try to find things on your mobile experience?

It's easy, you can use a service like or go ahead and find some users to participate in your test. It doesn't matter if they are current customers or not. Pick 5-7 product images you want them to find. You can also mix in some specific item terms (if you sell it, try a short, black A-line dress with sequins). Then record how they interact with your mobile experience. You will want to keep score on some key findability metrics.

  1. Did they find the item you wanted them to find (yes/no)? That is your task completion rate.
  2. How long did it take them to find each product? 
  3. Focus on improving those 2 metrics and then run the test again. There are lot's of ways and they don't start by thinking of designing responsive or adaptive sites they problem is deeper than that.

The good news is that even if you ask your test subjects how frustrated they felt (the subjective measure), they are not as easily frustrated with mobile because their expectations are still low. It was the same way in the late 90s and early 2000s with desktop experiences.

However, that forgiveness won't last very long. They will keep expecting more and more great mobile experiences like the ones they already find from companies like Amazon or maybe one of your current competitors.

Are you ready to take the findability challenge on your website?


Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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