I just read an article, “6 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile Strategy” from Inc.com, which kicked off with the staggering fact that “in 2010 more than 50% of all Internet access was being done via handhelds of some sort”.
Research by Investis also shows that between December 2009 and December 2010 mobile web access saw “an annual growth rate of over 400%”
The business implication of this is quite simple: if you don’t already have a mobile strategy, you need to start developing one or risk missing out on 50% of the market. But do you need to create a dedicated mobile version of your site, or should you optimise your existing website?
The thing is, many of the dynamics and constraints of mobile website access are unique to the channel. Consider that:
- People consume web information in a different fashion on a mobile device. They tend to perform more targeted, or location-specific tasks. Whereas PC users are much more likely to browse and randomly search.
- Support for technologies such as secure pages, Flash, PDFs is variable
- Screen size and text input limitations will always present unique usability challenges, no matter how good mobile browsers get at supporting PC web technologies
- Users hate to scroll or zoom unnecessarily
Personally, I always heave a sigh of relief when I visit a website and get a mobile version.
The Guardian has a particularly effective mobile site. They’ve pared the navigation right down to three big tabs at the top, though you can find more if you scroll right down. The coloured lines and generous use of white space in their look and feel have translated well to the new channel. The larger than normal text size is also a plus.
A question of cost
Of course the cost of development and maintenance of a separate mobile site needs to be considered as well. Is it worth it? I had a quick look at the sites of two well-known homeware chains.
The one has a dedicated mobile site, which while not especially pretty is easy to use on your phone. The other, while stylish, relies on tedious zooming and scrolling to navigate. It’s easy to see which company is most effectively taking advantage of the mobile platform.
Of course, what works for Argos or the BBC may not work for your business. ActiveStandards is fully up-to-date with the site monitoring and compliance issues that affect mobile websites, and our mobile policy service includes guidance on choosing the approach that suits you. So, whether you are in the process of building your mobile strategy or already have a fully-fledged site, we can support your efforts.