Mobile Devices

Are You Ready for the Mobile Device Generation?

smartphone

It’s a New Dawn
Most of us are aware that Mobile Internet usage is on an upward trend, but recent studies are showing that it is now going mainstream. In fact, a December 2011 report from Nielsen (“The Rise of Smartphones, Apps and the Mobile Web“) showed that the number of smartphone subscribers accessing the internet has grown 45 percent since 2010.

Another report titled “Mobile Shopping Goes Mainstream” by comScore shows that two-thirds of all smartphone owners performed shopping activities on their phones. In fact, this same comScore report states that “retailers without a well-developed mobile strategy are not only missing a tremendous opportunity, but risk becoming obsolete”.

Thanks to faster networks and better devices, we are seeing the dawning of a new age in terms of how we access and use the internet. The days of sitting in front of a laptop or desktop computer to browse the web is decreasing, and although smartphones and mobile devices have been in the marketplace for a while (iPhone was introduced in 2007), what we are seeing today is that internet usage via a mobile device is now entering the mainstream. We anticipate that numbers showing this for the 2011 holiday season will highlight this growing trend.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
Fortunately there’s a couple of quick and easy tests that can be done to see how your web site is performing via a mobile device. Our favorite tool is mobiReady (http://ready.mobi/). This is a free testing tool that evaluates your web site’s mobile-readiness using industry best practices & standards. It basically allows you to see what your web site will look like on different mobile devices.

A second free tool we like is provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards that ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Their test tool is available at http://validator.w3.org/mobile/. Although this tool is more targeted toward web developers, it will highlight specific areas that need to be addressed in order for your web site to be more mobile device compliant.

What Are the Consequences of Not Having a Mobile-Ready site?
What we are seeing – firsthand – is that a majority of online businesses and organizations do not yet have a mobile friendly web site. What are the consequences of this? Well, the number one consequence is that you could be missing out on a tremendous opportunity to capture new customers. If your competition isn’t providing a mobile solution, and you are… well guess what? You stand to benefit.

Secondly, you risk becoming obsolete in the minds of  your current or future customers if you don’t have a mobile solution. All of those dollars that you’ve spent throughout the years to attract new visitors could be lost if you don’t keep up with the upward trend with mobile internet usage.

Okay, So Where Do We Get Started?
First of all, you should remember that not all web sites attract the same types of users. You may have a business that attracts a smaller percentage of mobile device users. What we suggest is that you look at your web metrics reporting. Check to see how many web site users (to your site) are using mobile devices. If your mobile device visitor percentage is small (less than 3-5%) and you don’t yet have a mobile-ready web site, then you’re probably okay… for now. If the percentage of mobile device users is higher, then you really do need to start looking at some solutions for those visitors. Your future business could depend on it.

Web metrics reporting will provide some useful insights. Determine what pages mobile device users are looking at, and more importantly – exiting from. If all they are looking at is the home page, and the Bounce Rate is high, then you really need to start addressing your mobile device readiness.

Conclusion
The solution doesn’t need to be an expensive or time consuming undertaking. At a minimum, we suggest that you review your home page to see if it’s mobile device friendly. You’ll want to make sure that your company name, address, phone number, etc. are visible and easy to see. You can also provide links to content that’s already available for mobile devices like Facebook or Twitter (both have mobile-ready apps), etc.. Keep it simple, but have something for mobile device users to reach you through. The last thing you want to present is a blank web page because it won’t load into their mobile device correctly (or quickly).

UPDATE: Beginning in December 2011, Google now provides a mobile device publishing solution via their Google Currents platform. It’s easy to use, and you can publish all of your feed enabled content via this channel for all types of Mobile Devices. For more info check them out at the Google currents web site.

In closing, we certainly don’t believe that you need to create a completely new, mobile-ready web site. What you should do is some basic research and analysis to uncover areas on your web site that are in need of attention. There are many options available, and we can help you with your mobile device makeover for your web site. Please contact us to discuss some options.