To help us learn more about what organizations are doing in a critical area of mobile commerce — content management — Cutter conducted a survey late last year examining mobile devices, marketing, and content management systems (CMSs). This Cutter Edge explores some of those results.
We asked respondents to think about how important it is for their organizations to have a significant mobile presence (i.e., a high level of usability on mobile devices) over the next 12 months. Just over 70% report that having a significant mobile presence over the next year is very or somewhat important. Among those respondents who voiced their opinion as “minimal” or “not at all,” most were primarily from the enterprises with the smallest number of IT professionals and revenue. Hence, it would appear that larger enterprises, those likely responding to larger customer groups and internal constituencies, have already made or plan to make an investment in mobile CMSs.
I expect, however, that enterprises with a relatively smaller number of IT professionals and revenue will soon begin to catch up with their larger counterparts regarding CMS use. Like nearly all technology-driven investments, the tools available will grow, ease of use will increase, costs will decline, and experienced personnel will be more readily available, either through outsourcing or internal development.
We also thought it would be worthwhile to ask survey participants about their CMS plans for the next three years. Although they likely face the twin challenges of limited budgets and the fact that most of their budgets are devoted to ongoing maintenance, not new initiatives, more than 90% say that they think it is important for their organizations to have a significant mobile presence in the short term.
At nearly every organization, IT is well aware of the increased demands surrounding the rapid growth in mobile devices. More often than not, the problem is one of priorities and limited budgets. So, for those companies not yet focused on having a high level of usability on mobile devices, there appears to be recognition that they must move forward in this area in the near future. Obviously, we all work in organizations with budget constraints and multiple priorities. Yet, as is evidenced by the rapid growth in mobile devices and the equally rapid growth of commerce on those devices, particularly with the mix of social media, organizations must make investments in mobile-related activities a higher priority.
Even though over 70% of the respondents recognize that their organizations need to have a significant mobile presence over the next year, only 16% believe that the overall level of usability of their websites when viewed on a mobile device is good (see Figure 1). Interestingly, none of the respondents rate the usability of their websites when viewed on a mobile device as fantastic, and nearly 60% score them as fair.
In today’s economy, it is vital that organizations improve their mobile presence and grow customers. Yet responding organizations do not seem to be doing a good job in this regard. When asked specifically how well they think their organization’s current CMS supports mobile devices, less than half rate them as “fair” and 42% say they are “poor.” None of the respondents believe their organizations are performing this technique “very well.”
One of the first rules to keep in mind when focusing on usability is to create the equivalent of use cases. Put yourself in the shoes of a user that must accomplish a particular task or set of tasks — then build the wireframes that enable your user to get what he or she needs to get done as easily as possible. Keep in mind, also, that most people use their phones while performing another task. As with our other software development projects, I recommend rapid prototyping and you should expect to find many surprises along the way as users begin working with your applications.
Since competition is often a major driver of investment, we thought it would be relevant to ask survey respondents how they would rate the overall level of usability of their major competitors’ websites when viewed on a mobile device (see Figure 2). Just under a third of respondents rate their competitors as “good,” roughly 10% higher than the overall self-ranking shown in Figure 1. Most respondents (52%), however, indicate that their competitors’ websites when viewed on a mobile device are fair. As with the rankings of their own websites, respondents do not feel that any of their competitors warrant a rating of fantastic.
This finding is consistent with other research related to the quality of usability of websites. Like much in life, we can certainly define general components of what’s necessary for a high-quality, highly usable website, but moving beyond these guidelines, follow this simple advice: you’ll know it when you see it.