Tag Archives: mobile web

How Mobile Do You Look?

According to the latest research from the Pew Internet and American Life project, 46% of American adults 18 and older own smartphones. This has grown from 35% a year earlier. Desktop computer ownership, on the other hand, has continued to decline. Only 55% of adults now own desktops.

As these data show, the country is going mobile. Many of your customers probably are accessing your content through their phones. This begs the question – how does your site look, and more important work, through a mobile browser?

Many larger companies and organizations seem to have figured this out. The website of IBM, HP, Home Depot, Whole Foods, REI, and Harvard University are fundamentally different when visited from a desktop or laptop vs. when visited from a smartphone.

On a mobile aware site, a graphically busy multicolumn layout festooned with badges and banners can become a simplified and cleaner single column display. Now how does your site look?

Not every large organization seems to have considered the mobile visitor and the results can be unsightly not to mention unusable. If you need to get some information from the IRS or Chase Credit Cards from the browser on your phone, you’re in for a lot of pinching, panning, scrolling and zooming.

Small firms often lack mobile aware sites. If they are your competition, being mobile aware could give you an “unfair” advantage. As a smaller firm, you may have fewer marketing and web development resources, but going mobile can be easier than it might appear.

An emerging company called dudamobile offers one straight forward solution. It converts an existing site to one, which is mobile ready. I’ve been testing its service for a number of clients and find it works. It’s also easy.

To make a companion mobile site, you visit www.howtogom.com/getstarted and follow an onscreen wizard. You can modify the overall look of the mobile site by choosing a number of design templates and otherwise tweak your site, without knowing any web technology. The only technical skill required is the ability to paste a few lines of code in the head section of your homepage.  The service doesn’t work if your site uses framesets, which are obsolete technology, or Flash. Otherwise you should be good to go.

Compare the versions below, of a retail website below. Which one would you be more like to spend time on? Once you’ve implemented the service, visitors on a computer will see your traditional site. Those on mobile will automatically see the mobile version. Dudamobile charges $9 per month for this but it is currently offering a free one year trial. This may mobilize you to “mobilize” your site.


      Before Mobilization

             After Mobilization

Fish Where The Fish Are

About seven million iPhones and six million Balckberrys were sold in the third quarter of 2008. To this add a million and a half Android phones and growing “smart phone” (the dumb phone begin the one you currently have) sales from Sangsung and LG and you have a significant number accessing the online world not from the desktop or laptop but the palmtop.

How are you going to attract and retain these potential customers? You might start by trying to access your current online presence – email newsletters, web site, blog etc. – from a handset. Chances are their appearance and usability range from ungainly to unreadable. Your fancy design work just gets in the way.

Some web sites really get mobile. Google.com, for example, apparently senses that you’re coming from a mobile browser and serves a page formatted for a phone. This is the exception. A simpler, though workable, approach is to have a mobile presence with a different URL.

A common practice is to use the subdomain name m. For example,
m.cnn.com or m.flickr.com take you to versions of the parent site, which are much more readable on very small screen. Alternatively, some firms have created sibling web sites with the new top level domain .mobi. Working examples include time.mobi, msn.mobi, fox.mobi, hertz.mobi and zagat.mobi. Other attempts such as businessweek.mobi were less readable on my iPhone as well as having some problematic links.

For sites requiring more interactivity, special client software may be needed. For example, the full functionally of Twitter is not available through m.twitter.com, though I suspect it could be. Instead you need special client applications such as Twiterfon and Twitterberry.

What’s an over worked marketer to do? Until you can get a site designed for mobile The exercise of distilling your message, format, and content for a simplified handheld site might be just what makes your brand or products standout from the usual suspects.