Why Build a Mobile Website? (part 1 of 2)

Why Build a Mobile Website? (part 1 of 2)

Many times I’m being asked by prospect customers “why do I need a mobile website?”

The answer is simple, it’s all about REACH and ENGAGEMENT.

reach engage

Reach

According to Comscore 63 million US mobile phone users accessed news and information from their mobile devices in Jan 09. This is no surprise with new versions of internet enabled mobile phones entering the market this year like mushrooms after the rain (iPhone 3G, Palm Pre, Google Android etc). The internet is now in the grasp of many hands. It is today by far the most personal gadget, accompanying us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week wherever we go. Businesses understand this and have followed by creating websites that are tailored to the mobile user. A reports by Nielsen Mobile show that businesses that have added a mobile website have increased overall traffic to their website by 13%.

Engagement

Now fact is that most website display pretty poorly on mobile devices as they were not built to fit a small screen. A recent study shows that the average success rate for a user to complete a task via his mobile device was only 59%. The reason is that websites were not tailored for a mobile on-the-go type of interaction. Mobile users have different needs, they might be standing in the corner of a street trying to get precise information like your businesses address or the price of a product. How long will it take them to get to that information? If the information is not visible and the site is not appealing, chances are that they will just give up and search for a more mobile-friendly website that is willing to provide them with that information and keep them engaged.

So what do you do about it?

You basically have two options:

  • Do nothing and hope that the mobile browsers will improve with time
  • Create an optimized site for mobile

I will cover both these options in my next post: Better mobile browsers won’t solve the mobile web problem

Better mobile browsers won’t solve the mobile web problem (part 2 of 2)

Better mobile browsers won’t solve the mobile web problem (part 2 of 2)

The Human Touch

A mobile browser is an automated machine that only knows how to squeeze a websites into a small mobile screen. A good mobile solution will have to include some degree of configuration to select and prioritize the content. It requires someone who is intimately involved with the website and understands the business and can make such decisions. There is a lot of clutter in regular websites, usually created by large banners, jumping ads and promotions that just add to the noise and confusion in a mobile device.  Only a human can make the decision what content is relevant and should be “mobilized” and what not.

Poor UI

Now some people might say that the iPhone provides exceptional user experience. I agree that it is indeed an improvement compared to other mobile browsers, but it is far from being optimal. I like to compare the iPhone browsing experience to reading a newspaper in a dark room with a flash light. At any moment you can only see a limited part of the page, usually caused by the need to zoom-in and zoom-out in order to read the text. You wouldn’t agree to read your newspaper like that, so why accept it on your mobile device?

This is something that many businesses have understood and for the reason they have built dedicated iPhone websites (e.g. m.ebay.com, m.nbc.com, mobile.fandango.com) that are very different from their regular internet website. In addition business would like to add mobile specific features like mobile ads, location based services that use GPS functionality, click-to-call etc. All these features are not available on the PC website.

Creating an Optimized Site for Mobile

Creating a mobile optimized site can be a daunting task. You need to think about supporting multiple devices and multiple browsers. Then you get to the topic of maintenance, how do you keep your regular website and your mobile site in sync? And the biggest question is how do you achieve all this without getting into a heavy investment. This is exactly the pain we identified and solved at DudaMobile. Using our platform we are able to build mobile website that are based on your existing website. What that means is that you only have to maintain your regular website. Any changes you make will automatically be propagated into your mobile site. How do we do that? Well that’s the uniqueness of the technology we have developed. The good thing is that you don’t need to care about that. We take care of building, hosting, maintaining and supporting your mobile site. All you need to do is just promote it.