Friday, 29 September 2017

Why Mobile-First Design is Customer-First Design

The path to purchase is now more complex than ever before, with users indulging in more and more micro-moments of research on their mobile devices before booking a trip or hotel stay. Mobile is now the primary user device for hotel customers, with 75% of transactions beginning on mobile. Google estimates that currently 30% of people use a mobile device to complete transactions, expected to increase to 50% by 2020.

It's therefore essential that your hotel delivers a friction-free experience to customers at every interaction with your brand and website, which very often is on mobile. That’s why more and more businesses are adapting a ‘mobile-first approach’ to the design of their websites. 

What is Mobile-First Design?

Mobile first design: the definition is in the name. It’s a process of designing for mobile experiences before desktop experiences, considering smaller screen layouts such as smartphones and tablets before higher resolution screens. The key principles of mobile-first design are to provide a streamlined and speedy mobile site with quick and easy navigation. Direct mobile users’ journeys within 2 clicks or less and engage them with simple, stylish design that clearly indicates where to go and what to do without intensive scrolling.

This can really have a major effect on your website’s bounce rates and other engagement indicators. For example, we increased one resort’s conversion rate by 87% in a year by improving the mobile experience.

Mobile-First Design Pushes Revenue Higher


The recent North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, by J.D. Power and Associates, suggests that guests are most satisfied with hotels using mobile-friendly websites, and that developing a mobile optimised website has increased direct bookings.

Unnecessary barriers may be restricting the success of your hotel’s key online revenue channel. User-orientated design requires understanding how customers interact with your business to ultimately complete a transaction. Working with The Cavendish Hotel in London to redesign their hotel website and booking engine, we placed a primary focus on the mobile experience of their customers. As a result, revenue from mobile improved by 148% within 8 months.

Journey-Driven Design

The typical digital consumer owns 3.64 internet connected devices with research often being undertaken casually, on the move, with a mobile phone. The entire journey your customers take before booking can involve a variety of different devices, but the majority will move from a small screen to a desktop or laptop to complete the transaction.

Journey-driven design is an extension of the mobile-first design process. By examining customer interactions per device for each section of your website through a combination of heatmaps, conversion- and event-tracking, you build a clear picture of the paths your customers follow on the site. Identifying the touchpoints where visitors arrive and leave enables designers to better adapt the content for the user. Delving deeper by looking at the devices they use and emphasising the content appropriate to each device further improves the user experience.

Design is Nothing Without Speed

Furthermore, building visually appealing and lighter pages that load faster has a direct impact on the conversion rates of your website. Recent studies by Google indicate that:

  • The average load time for a mobile landing page is 22 seconds over a standard 3G connection (Google Research - 900,000 sites sampled, Jan. 2017.)
  • 53% of visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Google Data, Mar. 2016.)

As you can imagine, there is a significant gap between what a customer will tolerate versus how information is currently being provided to them by online businesses. The development of the new AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) open source initiative by Google is intended to bridge this gap. AMP is simply a trimmed down version of HTML which excludes the use of slow loading elements (such as JavaScript) that are the most common cause of slow loading pages.

Ultimately, focusing design around customers’ wants and needs on mobile devices can really make a difference to direct bookings. If you would like to understand how Aró can help improve your online business, please contact us.