For the purposes of this post let’s assume two things: 1. You know that mobile is the future of the web (if not, read Mobile First or just do a web search for “mobile growth”). 2. You want to take your business into the mobile space.
As Tim outlined in his blog Mobile Website Development, when someone talks about mobile web there are a number of different things they could be referring to. I’m going to dive a little deeper into mobile websites. This is basically a second website that is designed specifically for mobile devices. When a user lands on your website, their mobile browser is detected and they are redirected to land on your mobile website. While a mobile website is the ideal way to present all of your content to a mobile user and will probably be mandatory sooner than later, it may be cost prohibitive for small businesses and may not be necessary yet for every customer base.
One alternative to full mobile website development is a mobile landing page. Rather than build a mobile version of your entire site, mobile landing pages take the most important content for a mobile user and put it on a simple landing page. From that page mobile users can access the info they need most–perhaps your phone number, your business hours and directions to your location—and then follow a link to the regular website if they need more information.
For an example, visit Cottrell Trailers from your mobile device. With many of their customers on the road, Cottrell saw an ever increasing percentage of mobile website traffic. To get those users quickly to the information they most likely need, we created mobile landing pages to give easy access to service centers and dealer locations. The pages are designed for smaller mobile screens, can be easily navigated with one finger and take advantage of mobile features such as map applications and click-to-call.
While mobile landing pages are a great point of entry to the mobile space, I have to leave you with a word of warning. Creating a mobile landing page is a great first step, but that’s what it is: a first step. You have offered a solution for those users who need to reach you the most, but the mobile population is growing and it won’t be long before the majority of our web browsing is done on a phone or a tablet.
I like this approach. So much attention is given to mobile apps today that I think many people lose site of a mobile designed site experience. The trade-off for a mobile application is an optimized platform experience vs maintenance for multiple versions (iOS, android, blackberry, etc.) Using a mobile designed web experience is a good way for smaller organizations to improve the customer experience but not over stretch to a product portfolio that’s difficult and expensive to maintain.
Great article. Do you think technology advances inside smartphones will overcome the need for a mobile site? One of the reasons I like the iPhone over my old BlackBerry is that I have a full browser experience. Any public numbers on the ‘big boys’. I know Fox Sports and ESPN have both desktop and mobile. I prefer the desktop from my iPhone.
Thanks John! Sometimes I prefer the desktop version of a site too, but that’s usually because the mobile version is missing some information I need or the usability hasn’t been well thought out. The big downside of the desktop version–even with all of the advances in smartphones–is that you still have to pinch and zoom to navigate around. Just because we can see all of the site on a mobile phone doesn’t make it ideal.
So I don’t think we’ll overcome the need for a mobile optimized site (although at some point in time we may overcome the need for a desktop version!). However you have definitely underscored the importance of always including a link to the full desktop version on every mobile site. It is very frustrating to get stuck on a mobile site when you know exactly where to find the info you need on the other version.
1. How do I get my picture on here? 😉
2. I think that is a good point that desktop sites may be on the losing end of the battle.
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