Why you should care about second screening


Picture yourself as a fly on the wall at Chez Hazle on any given evening. Whilst you may wish to hone in on her terrible choice of television viewing (invariably something reality-show based), Claire encourages you to focus instead on her second screen activity.

For all the wonderment that causes my jaw to be permanently on the floor throughout said reality show, I am one of the 80-odd per cent of consumers who claim to also surf on their mobile whilst watching TV. Cue an online debate about how the attention span of late 30-something women has been obliterated due to evil technology.

YouGov survey

However, what it does highlight is the vital importance of developing an effective and seamless mobile browsing experience. If your fly on the wall possesses good hearing, it will be subjected to my frequent exhortations of “Grrr, I hate this stupid website” as my second screening experience is disrupted by one or more of a plethora of bug bears.

Just to share the pain, here is a selection:

  • Companies who think that their full site is perfectly suitable to view on my iPhone. Apple have yet to develop a magnifying sheet to enlarge the font size of a microbe.
  • Mobile sites that don’t quite fit my screen. I don’t need to practise my pinch and zoom technique on every page load, thanks.
  • Search engine results that take me to a page on a mobile site that *helpfully* tells me that page is not available on their mobile site. Even worse, when they then offer you a link to view their full site that *helpfully* takes you to the home page instead.
  • Mobile sites that don’t make use of native functionality. If a form field requires a number, bring up my phone’s number selector, not my keypad. Otherwise I will tut loudly at you.
  • Mobile sites that are totally different to the main site. How am I meant to learn different behaviour within the same brand?
  • Fiddly buttons and menus. Just don’t get me started.
  • Photos that are way too small on product category pages. See my first point re. my myopia. I don’t want to have to click on each individual dress picture to ascertain whether my bum will look big in it.

And it goes on. Please feel free to share your own – it’s quite cathartic, actually.

We are inherently impatient and lazy creatures, and expect brands to make it easy for us to buy their products or find information, particularly on a mobile when our consumption patterns are more sporadic. At the slightest whiff of an obstacle, we chuck in the towel and play Candy Crush Saga instead.

It is at this point that I expect a barrage of examples of where the Marie Curie website falls down in its mobile experience. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t offer up our site as an example of multi-device perfection. However, we are a darn sight further forward than we were just over six months ago.

Prior to us launching a new responsive website in December, we had a separate mobile site that featured totally different content, navigation and horrible jumps into pages on the full site, totally disrupting the user experience. If you reached the end of our clunky donation journey, you deserved your money back, with interest.

I don’t really subscribe to the term ‘mobile first’. I prefer ‘device agnostic’ (although it admittedly sounds a little pretentious when you say it aloud). This means that we focus primarily on the user and the journey we’d like to take them on, and then optimise that journey along the way to both minimise any device-specific  barriers and maximise native engagement opportunities. In this way, our website users receive a consistent experience regardless of digital channel.

That’s the theory, and we are continuously enhancing that experience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will our ‘device agnostic’ (see, you’re starting to warm to the term) user-centric experience be.

So what happened to my fly on the wall? Well, it got squashed when I threw my iPhone at it in frustration at all the websites I couldn’t browse properly. There has to be a moral in there somewhere.

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Claire is head of digital at Marie Curie, where she leads a team of twenty specialists across the full digital spectrum. She is passionate about everything digital and has worked in the industry for fifteen years in a number of sectors including travel and financial services.