Posts Tagged mobile
We’re getting more questions from clients about Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. We last visited this topic back in March. A few things have changed since then so we’re revisiting mobile devices again today.
Do I need a mobile version of my Web site?
In many cases, no. Most Web sites work just fine on mobile devices with no alteration. Mobile devices using Apple iOS or Android use browsers based on Webkit, which also powers Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari browser. There are exceptions: sites that use Flash will not work properly on many handheld devices.
When do I need a special Mobile version of your site?
In short, when you expect a sizable percentage of traffic from mobile visitors. Some examples would be restaurants, news sites and movie theaters. Businesses that expect visitors to purchase items from their site using a mobile device will need to do more — they will need to create a mobile shopping experience. But it is important to be realistic –few businesses at this time should expect a large number of mobile purchases.
Do I need an app?
Most smart phones allow users to install applications or apps for short. Apps make access to your business easier for your customers, but installing a program on their device may take extra time and space on their phone. To determine whether you need an app, pretend you are a customer — would you want to install this app on your phone? It may help to interview potential customers.
We’re often asked about Web sites that are optimized for mobile environments, such as the iPhone, the Droid and other smartphones. This is a space that is clearly growing and changing at a fast pace. Today’s smartphones are smarter, faster and cheaper than phones made even a year ago.
First a note in the interest of full disclosure, our main corporate site isn’t optimized for mobile environments (we followed the methodology described below) and I don’t even own a smartphone! As high tech as I am, I like to be off the Internet when I’m out and about, and my job affords me the flexibility to do so. We’ve researched the options and we make informed recommendations to clients.
When deciding when and how much to invest in building a mobile site or application, you should first examine your audience. Is the person who will buy your service someone who will make a buying decision after learning about your service or product on a mobile device? You can find this information from your Web site traffic reports or from Google Analytics. You can also build a profile of your typical client or customer and determine whether visiting your site on a mobile phone is part of the process or not. Some examples:
- A service that handles reserved seating for restaurants near Microsoft’s campus in the Redmond, WA area would be very likely to be accessed via phone. The type of person who would come to the restaurant probably has a phone and would be likely to look at the menu or reserve a table from their smartphone.
- A hearing aid retailer is unlikely to be accessed via smartphone. The typical user probably doesn’t make buying decisions using a smartphone.
Where does your business fit in?
Let’s say you have determined you need a mobile site or application. The temptation is to just copy what’s on your Web site over to the mobile site. That’s usually not right, because mobile users might have different needs than a regular Web site user. An example would be a restaurant: a Web site user might want to read about the history of the restaurant and see pictures of the interior, a mobile user might be looking for a menu and directions. For mobile users, you might focus on a subset of functionality available to users. You also might consider building an application which allows users to quickly access information.
Other aspects of mobile sites:
Data entry: Using databases, mobile Web sites, mobile applications and the original Web site can share data, so once information is entered by the site’s administrator, it doesn’t need to be retyped or reposted.
Testing: On the desktop side, there are 4 major Web browsers and two major operating system. In the mobile world, there are 10 different browsers across many different operating systems. The feature sets of these browsers are in flux, so what’s work great now may not later.
Screen Resolution: Mobile devices are much smaller than desktops and laptops, and the screen resolutions is also usually smaller. Pictures may have to be resized to be seen properly.
Have you optimized your site for mobile? Why or why not?