Failure to optimise a travel website for mobile and tablet could do lasting damage to a brand beyond the issues associated with the device, user experience expert Tealeaf has warned.
Quoting Harris Interactive research, Bill Loller vice president mobile product management, said two thirds of customers would not buy from a brand after a poor online experience.
The research also found 25% of UK consumers had conducted a mobile transaction in the last year and 75% saw no reason why a mobile transaction could not be completed at the first time of asking.
Loller said the personal nature of the mobile channel makes it more important that it offers a good experience and particularly in 2012 as usage is “sky rocketing”.
And this is forging the wider adoption of HTML5, which will herald a major step forward for mobile websites by instilling the richness of native app functionality.
“We are starting to see a lot of companies here in the US starting to deploy HTML5 so they can cut across mobile web, native applications and tablet.
“It’s giving them an easy way to redeploy assets. It’s been a long and tedious process for HTML5 to go through the standardisation process, but it’s got to the point now where people are using it.”
Last month Tealeaf launched its new version of CX Mobile, a customer experience analytics tool compatible with all major mobile platforms.
“The trajectory around mobile is beyond anything anyone expected. In the fourth quarter of 2011 Apple generated more revenues than all Microsoft business units combined.
“The growth rates are huge and the important thing is that the experience on a mobile device is more critical than on the desktop.
“You are dealing with a constrained device in terms of screen space and people are on the move, in trains, planes or automobiles so the experience has to be clean and compelling.
“Right now the experience is not that great. In the travel industry in particular it’s hyper, hyper competitive so staying ahead of the competition is crucial.
“There is an opportunity now for the industry to really optimise the consumer experience to encourage adoption and use.“Mobile adoption rate and expectations are sky-rocketing for companies in general and travel in particular. You have to have a consumer-centric experience.”
Loller said not only was it important that firms with a mobile offering discover what the problems consumers are having are, but also the scale of those problems.
Travel companies should look for patterns of behaviour to identify where users are struggling with the mobile process.
One sign that users are having problems are when people switch the view from vertical to horizontal when they are trying to find something and CX Mobile is able to pick this up.
Loller said despite the unique attributes of tablets and the different user experience, Tealeaf considers them to fall into the mobile category as they use the same operating systems as phones.
Tealeaf customers are seeing between 15% and 20% of traffic coming from mobile with around half of that coming from tablet and with Apple products dominating.
“One of the things we are seeing is that the iPad and iPhone are a lot more dominant that Android devices.
“There are a few reasons for that. Apple has been marketed as a consumer experience – everything about it is about ease of use.
“If you look at how Android is marketed it’s all about processor power or memory. It’s like Android is being marketed like a PC but in a different form whereas Apple is marketing this incredible experience.”
The biggest failure of most travel mobile sites is they try to cram too much information into a limited screen, Loller added.
“It’s a natural reaction, but in a mobile device it just confuses people, because there is just not enough real estate,” he said.
“The key is discovering why something is happening. If you discover that you can know what the particular issue is preventing someone doing something they want to do.
“When that happens you can search to find every single person who has that same problem, then you can quantify the problem.
“What we are also able to do is give cross-channel analytics, comparing how your mobile offering is performing in terms of conversion rates, you can look across business lines and see what’s working.”