The world’s gone mad for mobile. It’s all about the mobile web.
Mobile devices – primarily smartphones and tablets – are set to become the dominant vehicles for accessing the internet. At the beginning of 2011, there were reckoned to be 500 million mobile internet users. Sony Ericsson predict that this figure will DOUBLE by the end of the year. Already today more than half of online users access the internet via their mobile devices. By 2013 more people will be accessing the internet from their mobile device than from their PC. Analysts such as Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley predicted all of this two years ago.
So, in order for your business to be visible on the mobile internet, you need to pull your finger out and have a mobile version of your current website up and running PDQ. Right?
You don’t want a mobile version of your existing website. Just as you don’t want what amounts to little more than an HTML version of your brochure – which, if we’re honest, is what 99% of company websites were up until maybe five years ago (and, as well all know, many are still stuck there).
The mobile internet is a different internet
Yes, you absolutely need a mobile-optimized presence on the internet. But we’re talking about a very different internet to the one that’s presented to your desktop or laptop computer. The mobile web isn’t the desktop web, but smaller. If anything it’s the desktop web that should be considered as a bigger version of the mobile web. Let me explain.
Of course it’s one where screens are smaller than on your average PC. But it’s also one where screen size can differ between browsing devices to a far greater level – look at the difference in screen real estate between an iPhone and an iPad, for example. The simple act of turning a mobile device ninety degrees, from portrait to landscape orientation, increases browser real-estate by about 30%.
It’s one where you can’t use irrelevant and outdated proprietary technology such as Flash. It’s one where you don’t want to have high-resolution, print-optimized PDF files as web downloads. Where the use of images has to be reconsidered due to bandwidth issues (I don’t care if you’re running 3G or 4G – accessing the internet on a mobile device is slower than from your desktop).
Web content needs to dynamically adapt to the device, so as to consistently deliver the best possible user experience. Talking of which: user experience itself totally changes in the world of the mobile internet. Content and context needs to be easier to use, to navigate (no keyboards or mice here, remember) and deliver the expected value – fast.
Think mobile web first, everything else afterwards.
A mobile website is not a smaller version of your existing website. The design is different, the navigation is different. Even the content is different – mobile users on your site don’t (and won’t) want to read your 2000-word blog post or white paper, for example.
Mobile visitors to your site have a different intent, and different expectations, to desktop visitors. If you’re a restaurant, for example, mobile visitors probably just want your phone number to make a reservation, see where you are on a map, or maybe take a look at the menu. They probably aren’t interested in the 47 image picture gallery of the dining room, or the movie video documentary of how your grandfather started the restaurant from the back of his pick-up truck in the middle of the desert.
Your website in the mobile world should be seen, considered and treated as something new. The mobile internet isn’t the ‘new’ internet: it’s something totally different altogether.