Mobile browsing is fast becoming the norm. And yet, when I look at many SaaS applications via my smartphone, I cringe a little: confusing, awkward and unsightly. Now that more and more people are using their smartphone as their primary screen, SaaS providers have to ask themselves if their applications are ready to be used in any situation. In short: is your SaaS product toilet-proof?
If you’re the proud possessor of a smartphone, the odds are that you wake up and go to sleep with it. Before breakfast, you’ve probably already checked your notifications and, throughout the day, you’re keeping up with the latest news and liking stuff all over the place.
During the soccer game between Belgium and Algeria on June 17th, for instance, mobile traffic in Belgium was at its highest level ever. And at Velocity conference in London last fall, keynote speaker Chaitanya Mishra of the people behind Facebook’s Android app — told the audience how the speed at which the shift from desktop to mobile is taking place had caught even them by surprise. We’re talking about a corporation that invests millions in predicting these kinds of things. Still, many SaaS-builders argue that the number of mobile users for their app or website remains low. The obvious explanation is this: trying to work with an app that is not adapted for mobile use on your smartphone is a human rights violation, and the torturous user experience will chase your audience away.
Making the switch
That’s why it’s high time for SaaS developers to ask themselves how their applications will look and feel on a smartphone. And what they want their users to do with them. For example, if a manager wants to approve a leave request from one of his employees, does he have to open his email, log in, review, and, at long last, approve it? Or can he do all of this with, literally, a flick of the finger?
3 Steps to a mobile-friendly SaaS
But how to make the switch? Since Rome wasn’t built in a day, I’d suggest taking it step by step:
- Make a (mental) breakdown of the tasks users might want to perform when they visit your website or application with their smartphone;
- Use turnkey technologies, like responsive design, to gradually create a better user experience for smaller screens. That way, the user is optimally supported when performing the required task. Not sure whether your approach works? Do the toilet test: if you have to clean your smartphone afterwards, you might have to reconsider. Furthermore, a lot of great frameworks exist to let your imagination run free, like Twitter Bootstrap and Zurb Foundation.
- Use your analytics to measure the impact of these changes. Are mobile users becoming more engaged than with the previous experience? Congratulations! Your application is now officially toilet-proof.
As an illustration of responsive design, consider these screenshots.
A typical management dashboard on a desktop size screen.
The same management dashboard on a mobile screen. Notice how the navigation is collapsed and how nicely the graphs collapse without fighting with each other for screen real estate.
How did you make your SaaS friendlier on mobile? Do you see an increase in mobile usage of your SaaS? I’d like to hear from you!