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12

Dec

The mobile evolution, a charity perspective

Posted By Emily Nicholls Wednesday, December 12, 2012. No Comments

Guest Blog from bemoko client Andy Nash -Macmillan Cancer Support

Firstly, we need to appreciate what the mobile evolution is. Nokia phones in the 1990’s connected people and became the mass-appeal, must-have personal gadget for a generation. In the mid-2000’s smart phones were accessing the internet, allowing people to download applications and interact on social media in an immediate way. For most people their mobile device has become the primary multi-purpose, multi-functional device they have with them 24 hours a day. And that is the evolution – mobiles are the turn-to device and sometimes the only device people now use because in one hand-held device that they have with them all the time, they can carry out actions they would have needed several devices for in the past, not all of which were portable.

Secondly, we need to understand how people use mobile devices and what makes this a challenge that is much more than just putting our desktop sites onto mobile devices. There are three considerations here that we need to keep front-of-mind:

• Time spent looking at information on mobile devices
People think of a question, turn to their mobile device for an answer, get it and that’s often the end of the journey. Reading at length and going off at tangents following related links is often not as commonplace as when sat comfortably in front of a desktop machine.

• Levels of distraction
Because the mobile device is with people all the time, people use their devices essentially throughout the entire span of the day. In most cases, they are distracted by other things: getting ready for work; walking; other commuters on public transport; eating; or the TV, for example.

• User expectations
People expect mobile to enable them to get answers, provide those answers in a rich way and make the absolute most of the capabilities of the device – not just serve up text in a web page

We need to guard against seeing mobile as another delivery platform for desktop experiences. Or worse – a cut down version of the desktop website. Yes, mobile devices have smaller screens, limitations in terms of connection speeds and network coverage. But the limitations of desktop machines are vast in comparison, because the mobile is such a multi-functional device. They can’t make calls, send texts, precisely geo-locate, take pictures, or interact in any significant way with the real world. Each of these functions can be tapped into to enhance what would previously have been done on a desktop website. People no longer need to be told “Pick up the phone and call us!” – they can just tap the telephone number on screen. They no longer need to print out a map from a website, they can use the in-built navigation function of the mobile device that is able to be geo-located through its GPS. No longer does a poster have to have a memorable URL printed on it for the causal passer-by to try to remember when they get home. A QR code alternative will enable smart phone users to scan it and go straight to the page whilst still in front of the poster.

The mobile device is already becoming the device of choice for most people. As such, the way organisations are embracing and exploiting the multi-functions available on mobile devices is only set to grow.

So what does this mean for charities? Well we in the charity world have to be careful to spend money donated to us wisely and add value to our services with it. We also have to find ways to show those that donate to us what a huge impact they are making on our behalf. And we have to encourage our supporters to continue to support our worthy causes. The mobile evolution enables us to do all these things and link them all up in a way that we simply could never do via desktop websites alone.

• Provision of information and services can be more easily personalised.
• Fundraising and campaigning can be made much more immediate.
• Enabling supporters to get involved can be much more localised.

But, when commissioning work, we need to have a good understanding of how embracing mobile is not just an editorial challenge, but a technical one as well and that the two are inextricably linked.

Some tips:
• Developing for mobile is not easy.

• There are lots of buzz words and phrases in use that mean different things to different people (mobile first, responsive design, device detection, progressive enhancement, graceful degradation for example).

• Mobile should not just be a cut-down view of a desktop site. Neither should it be the whole desktop site reproduced for the smaller screen.

• Organisations should concentrate on what the core information is that they want to communicate across all their devices. Then look at each individual device type (by grouping similar devices together – for example, feature phones, smart phones, tablets, desktops) and work out how that device type can enhance the core content and provide extra device-specific content.

• Do server-side device detection and use that to determine what to send to the device you’ve detected. Don’t be lazy and send everything to every device and expect the device to sort out what to display (why send a device on 3G any more data than it needs to display.

• Beware full-service agencies that have mobile as a bolt-on to their core business.

Guest Blog by Andy Nash,-Digital Project Manager – Mobile Macmillan Cancer Support
“Andy has worked in the digital arena for 18 years, including both public sector and charity. He moved from desktop web to mobile in 2010 and now evangelises daily on the need for everyone else to join him. He is passionate about user centered design and build”

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Posted in: charity web, donations, fundraising, Macmillan Cancer Support, mobile, mobile design, mobile search, mobile technology, mobile UX, mobile web, multichannel, third sector

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