Add to this the fact that 9% of Checkatrade.com visits are already via mobile devices – with a much higher bounce rate than usual – and you can see why it needs a site that works well on mobile.
Checkatrade offers a service that consumers want on their phones. They might have a burst pipe and need to find a plumber quickly. They might want to get a kitchen fitter booked while they’re on the move. Or they might be dual screening on the sofa – checking the company out on their phones after seeing the TV ad.
So we built Checkatrade a mobile site allowing consumers to do these things – in ways that match the ways they use their phones.
For example, to cater for haste, the search is simplified and optimised for speed. The user interface (UI) is switched around to put location first, and mobile positioning used to fill in the first search field. We built a Google-esque autocomplete feature to minimise typing and provide a familiar search experience. Typing on a mobile screen is taxing anyway, doubly so when you’re in a hurry or on the move, so we included frequent search shortcut buttons to save time. The primary means to contact tradespeople is to hit a button to phone them – although you can still see the numbers so that you know the rate.
Most importantly – the front page has only one obvious primary task. Links to secondary tasks come lower down the page. Because text is harder to understand when read from a small screen, there is little of it: just enough to provide context for the main task.
(Actually, that’s not strictly true. We added a touch more copy back into the page to make it feel more like a website than an app. We want to show that the mobile site is only the tip of the iceberg, and that there’s an awful lot more to explore on the full website).
For the sofa surfers, there are short pages explaining what Checkatrade is. And because they read their emails on their phones, and might follow the link from Checkatrade messages inviting them to submit feedback, they can do that on the mobile site too. This convenience should increase the customer response.
Pages are light to load quickly, the navigation is simple, and the buttons big to allow for fat fingers. We designed for simplicity, hi-res for the retina display of the iPhone 4s, and had a little fun too – see if you can find the surging bar charts on the tradespersons’ pages.
The website has just gone live, and had 1,300 visits in its first day. Check it out if you are thinking about a mobile site for your business too. Equally, if one of your pipes has just burst or your fence blown down in the wind, you know where to go.