Is it time for you to go mobile?

Over the holiday break I traveled to Michigan to visit my wife's family. The trip was great and I was able to get some much needed R&R. I left for the airport to return home around noon on Sunday and on the way to the airport though I would check on my flight's status by visiting Northwest Airline's website on my iPhone. Fortunately the iPhone does a great job of rendering websites pretty much the same way you see them on a regular computer. Unfortunately, without a larger screen and a mouse it took a lot of careful navigating to even find the right place to look for flight status. Frustrated after a few minutes, I remembered that we had recently launched a new Tulsa International Airport mobile website! I typed in tulsaairports.com in my phone and the minimalist interface loaded almost instantly. Two clicks later I had an easy to read summary of my flight status.

I'm not writing about this story to brag on our own mobile site (although we are proud of it!). I'm writing this to talk about the explosion of mobile web browsers on the market. If you have a website, chances are that people are visiting the site with phones and other portable devices and it's imperative that you ask yourself these two questions:

  • What does my current site look like to mobile browsers?
  • What are mobile visitors to my site looking for?

 

Do you need a separate site?

Some websites look surprisingly good in mobile browsers without making any changes, but that is the exception. The vast majority of sites are completely unusable when being viewed in a mobile browser. Things like Flash, embedded video, & javascript are just a few of the common technologies that are not available to most mobile visitors.

The best way to ensure a user friendly experience to your mobile visitors is to have a separate website that is shown to mobile visitors when they visit your domain. When working with our clients we evaluate their unique needs and recommend a solution that will meet the needs of their mobile visitors. From a static one-page mobile friendly site to an integrated CMS driven site that pulls content from your regular website, there are a variety of solutions for implementing a separate mobile site.

Do you need a separate site?

When thinking about a mobile website for yourself you need to re-evaluate your content strategy. People in the car or away from home have different needs than visitors sitting at their computers. For example, there's a good chance that mobile visitors are looking for contact info or driving directions to your business. In the case of the airport website, flight status was the most important information to communicate.

Because of the limitations of most mobile browsers it is usually best to reduce the amount of content on your mobile site to the most essential information. This allows the navigation to be much more compact and usable.

Conclusions

There's no doubt that mobile web-browsing is here to stay. The timing may or may not be right for you to add a mobile version of your site. But we recommend that everyone ask themselves the above questions and at least start thinking about the possibility.

If you'd like to talk to someone at Creative State about your website and the possibility of creating a mobile version of the site. you can: