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Mobile-Forward Design Grows Global Market Share
Posted by Benjamin B. Sargent on January 25, 2017  in the following blogs: Best Practices, Business Globalization, Web Globalization
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Increasingly, B2B and B2C companies alike provide an app-like experience for their brand websites. Today, more than 50% of searches, globally, take place on mobile devices. Sure, people that carry handhelds still download apps for handling frequently repeated tasks, like checking the weather, but otherwise expect to perform app functions via their mobile web browser. How did we get to this point?

  • Traditional, page-oriented design held companies back. Our earlier research demonstrated how quickly the opportunity curve drops on the long tail of languages, with the size of the market getting ever smaller as brands push further in search of new audiences. In CSA Research’s 2016 review of top global websites, of the 2,657 sites visited, only 150 publish in 25 languages or more. Examining the global web presence of these companies, we identified significant differences in approach between brands that get stuck at 25, 30, or 35, versus companies that push through to 45 or more languages. The websites of 11 of the 12 brands with 45+ languages used an app-like approach.

  • Developers built global websites as web apps. In best practices analysis from 2010 onward, we propounded taking an app-like approach on global websites. Today, the convergence of market globalization, smartphone adoption, and the growing maturity of digital and localization practices has pushed app-like web experiences into the mainstream for high-tech and native web brands. Companies in other industries will eventually adopt these practices as well, as digital teams recognize an opportunity to grow market share.

  • Mobile emerged as the focus for experience design. In 2016, the most advanced app-like websites exhibited traits that CSA Research identifies as mobile-forward design. Extending the idea of mobile-first, these brands not only design first for the small screen, they put that same experience forward onto desktop screens as well, using responsive web design (RWD). Thus, mobile visitors encounter a mobile-friendly website and return visitors find the same familiar experience on a large screen. RWD enables consistency and flexibility in global customer experience.
In mobile-forward design, the same experience is loaded not only on all devices, but in all country and language markets. This provides similar benefits to country- or language-switching customers, while also giving cost and efficiency advantages to brands. Sites that don’t follow this trend, such as godaddy.com, create different experiences on each platform. This non-optimal approach creates confusion for device-swapping users. It also raises obvious cost, effort, and ROI concerns for localization, because two separate experiences are required to support any given language market (see graphic).

GoDaddy.com Offers Different Experience on iPhone Versus Desktop

App-like experience development is one of many best practices that drive ROI for market entry and growth. Mobile-forward design goes even further in helping a brand to develop and release new features faster across all markets. It also improves customer experience. These are critical factors in global competition. Our research finds that centralized production accelerates content velocity, which in turn improves content relevance and ramps the quantity (and quality) of traffic from search engines. Lower costs and stronger results improve the ROI parameters for new languages, allowing brands to expand market coverage to 40+ languages. In turn, adding each new language helps a brand extend its market reach and grow its global market share.


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Related Research
Gaining Global Web Presence
Digital Opportunity: Top 100 Online Languages for 2016
Global Website Assessment Index 2016
Mobile-Forward Design for Global Websites
Expanding Global Customer Experience
Top 100 Ranking of Global Brand Websites
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Keywords: Global customer experience, Global mobile, Global websites, Language and market selection, Online customer experience, Return on investment

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