Simplicity in Mobile Is Key
Most companies seem to use their traditional search capabilities as the foundation and framework for their mobile offerings. Goodall says that regardless of channel, AutoTrader.co.uk offers site visitors a basic search and then gives them additional options. "You start with make, model, and then price range and you let them go from there," he says.
Healthline Networks, which utilizes its own propriety technology, optimized its Symptom Search and Treatment Search tools for mobile in order to serve
users who demand their healthcare information on-the-go. Symptom Search enables users to type in a symptom they have and get more information about
it as they seek a diagnosis. To use Treatment Search, site visitors can search by a particular condition or treatment. Interestingly, Healthline Network's RxList Pill Identifier Tool is more popular with mobile users than with web users. This helps users identify a pill that is not in its original prescription bottle. A mobile user has most likely stored the pill in a pill organizer he carries with him, while leaving the bottle that contains the prescription label at home.
While most traditional websites today are loaded with content and special features, a more toned-down approach seems to be the way to go when creating a mobile site and search interface. Having a clear and prominent search box is important, as well as the content that people need to answer their questions-and to answer them quickly.
While companies such as Auto Trader and Healthline Networks do offer similar functionality in their traditional and mobile search tools, they recognize that the presentation within the mobile setting must be streamlined. "You can't have as much information on a mobile page," says Kopp. "You have to figure out how to give people the right balance of content and navigation. Navigation is not as important. Content is more important. You're trying to get users to the content as quickly as possible."
Thierry Costa, vice president of marketing at SLI Systems, agrees. He suggests presenting the search box on top of the interface. SLI Systems provides search solutions for ecommerce websites. The Catholic Co., which sells Catholic books and gifts online, adjusted the visuals on its mobile site to make it more pleasing to the eye in that medium. "We don't have the flash banner, and we pulled out a lot of the niceties on the broadband website," explains Nicholas Cole, director of marketing at The Catholic Co., which utilizes SLI Systems' SLI Mobile product to power its mobile search capabilities.
Cole notes how simplified the design of the mobile homepage is for the end user. It contains the company's logo, the phone number, and a search box, as well as some of the company's top products. "Instead of having tons of calls to action and recommended products, the site contains the basics," says Cole. "People on mobile phones don't have a lot of time. It's just enough information for a customer to find what they're looking for, decide what to purchase, and make that purchase."