A couple weeks ago I saw the latest Top 10 IDC predictions for the IT industry. It is always good idea to seek an “outside in” perspective on your business positioning and marketing message. A prediction that caught my attention was that in 2013 there will no longer be growth in the use of traditional desktop computers and laptops to access the Internet. By 2015, it is expected that more people will surf the net from their “Smart Mobile Devices” instead.
From a marketing communications perspective, this is pretty big news.
To start, one of the most important communications venues is a website. The growth in tablets and smart phones to access the Internet is hardly surprising. A year ago I wrote this post: 5 Ways to Improve Website Usability on a Mobile Device, which pointed to this growing trend, and what to do in preparation. Regardless, the expectation that more than half of all website visitors will be on mobile devices is shocking! No longer is it prudent to just think about formatting and display issues … a complete reevaluation on menu navigation and accessibility should now be considered. Ignore this audience and you will be at risk of losing up to half of all visitors in just two years’ time.
Here is something to consider: do you have flash running on your site? If so, then you might want to set a plan in motion to remove it. Apple mobile devices have a significant market share, and Flash doesn’t work on their systems. And, the new Microsoft Surface tablet doesn’t run flash either.
Here is another thought to consider: Windows 8 is out and on the shelves. In the next 12-18 months a much larger percentage of website viewing activity will be done from this operating system, which will run both desktops, laptops and mobile devices. This OS favors a content structure that moves from left to right instead of from up to down. Translation: you might want to start thinking about how to arrange your website navigation accordingly.
Lastly, take a moment to recognize that touch screens are steadily becoming more prevalent. Apple is the one to “blame” for this transformation, with the launch of their iPhones and iPads. Their popularity demonstrates the benefits of this type of user interface – it is just easier to touch a screen to navigate a user interface or website. This is another design element that should now be considered as part of your website layout. Big buttons will need to be incorporated to activate menu options or to request more information.
My prediction is that 2013 will be a great year for web design firms. If I was running the marketing program at one of them, I would be sure to kick off the year with a special message and marketing communications about the results of the latest IDC study coupled with a free “mobility compatibility” evaluation offer.
There might even be a reasonable business plan that could launch a new company offering this service …
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.