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

7 thoughts on “Why Build a Mobile Website? (part 1 of 2)

  1. Just Googled and read the whole article and i must have to say that me and my husband loved reading your post. I liked your site because i am almost illiterate about mobile phones and was thinking of buying a new cell phone for my daughter. Now reading many reviews i am really confused so if you can suggest me which mobile phone should i buy for my teenage daughter i would appreciate the great advice. We bookmarked and will regularly check more updates to come from your website. Thanks.

    • I use a BlackBerry Curve for work stuff mainly because of the keyboard and an iPhone for Website browsing and fun.
      I read a lot of good reviews about the Verizon Droid which is based on the Google Android OS and combines the best of both those worlds in one device. Would love to get my hands on it.

  2. Crossposted from my comment to Mark Finkle’s blog post about mobile optimized web pages:
    Here’s a general maxim: If accessing your “normal” website on a mobile device is painful, your “normal” website sucks. The solution is not to divide your time into making a mobile-targeted website and a desktop-targeted website, it’s to make an accessible website from the start. You’ll end up with happy mobile users, the (potentially silent) subset of users who found your website frustrating to access on the desktop will shrink, and it will be available to both parties in a fraction of the time that it would if you were to develop two separate websites; there will be no down period for mobile users while you’re trying to put something together.

    • Creating a mobile site is not just about improving user experience. It also allows you to add special features for your mobile users that are not relevant to regular desktop viewing, for example leveraging device capabilities like: integration with GPS (location awareness), Click-To-Call, SMS etc.

  3. You’re ignoring the notion that I, as a desktop user, should be able to leverage those features as well, because, say my laptop is just as capable of taking advantage of GPS or because my browser can interpret microformats. I can do those things so long as a web author hasn’t eliminated that possibility for me by making bold assumptions about how I will consume the content.

    My original statement still stands: it’s in everyone’s best interest to author websites in a way that’s agnostic to the device, to provide the most functionality for the most users—that is, everyone but those whose business model relies on selling customers on the idea of the necessity of two, separate desktop-targeted and mobile-targeted websites.

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