According to a 2011 report by research firm IDC, more U.S. Internet users will access the web via mobile devices than through PCs or other wired devices by the year 2015. The report stated that the number of mobile Internet users would increase at a rate of 16.6% between 2010 and 2015. IDC also reported that global business-to-consumer e-commerce spending will grow from $708 million to $1.285 billion in 2015, a growth rate of 12.7 percent. Will your business be ready?

Over the next four blog posts we’ll be discussing various strategies for “going mobile”. Our goal is to provide businesses with information that should help them make an informed decision when considering a mobile strategy. Your website is the hub of all your online marketing activity and mobile-friendly or not, it is a representation of your company’s presence online.

Breaking Down Your Options

1. The Traditional Website
Until a few years ago, when deciding on your company’s website in most cases you either went with a pure HTML/CSS-based site or a CMS solution like WordPress or Joomla (there definitely were others). Flash was and continues to be used heavily to bring sound, animation, and video to a website. Until smartphones entered the picture (specifically Apple devices) this wasn’t a problem and in fact was standard practice for most large companies.

Accessing the web via a PC or other wired device is still the preferred method in 2012 according to IDC. With that in mind businesses need to make sure their website is compatible across multiple web browsers. Cross-browser compatibility is one of the most important design considerations today. If something looks great in the Firefox web browser, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will look and behave the same in Internet Explorer. PC screens are large and screen resolutions are higher than they have ever been so there is lots of room to be creative.

2. The Mobile Compatible Website
As soon as Apple’s iPhone hit the market in 2007, the smartphone revolution was kicked into overdrive. Fast forward a few years and when designing a website, businesses must consider visitors accessing the web from mobile smartphones. Smartphones running Google Android or Apple iOS come equipped with a web browser that allows visitors to access your website while on the go.

Just as cross-browser compatibility is a concern when designing a traditional website, use of web browser plugins like Flash are a concern when designing a mobile compatible website. Remember how Flash was a great technology for bringing sound, animation, and video to a website? Well, Flash is not supported on the most popular smartphone of them all – Apple’s iPhone. It’s a long story however, having a website built entirely on Flash is a missed business opportunity as your mobile visitor will be left with a very bad experience.

A mobile compatible website will likely contain the same material as a traditional website but uses only technologies compatible with today’s smartphones. When building a new website today it should be mobile compatible at the very least.

3. The Mobile Website
Depth. A mobile website is an opportunity for businesses to provide depth of information to visitors on the go. According to Forrester, when considering mobile (websites and apps) think Immediacy, Simplicity, and Context.

When creating your mobile strategy, the mobile website is not necessarily a clone of your traditional website for mobile devices. The information on your site should be quickly accessible (Immediacy). That same information should be easy to access and navigate (Simplicity). Lastly, when determining which pages of your traditional website are relevant for the mobile web, choose the most pertinent information. A good rule is to select the sections of your website most frequently visited (Context).

4. The Mobile App
Utility. A mobile app should serve a purpose and if possible provide a utility to make life easier for your customers. For a business, the mobile app you create should help your customer do something better.

Before even considering which mobile platform to target, your business needs to have a vision – what do you want to accomplish with your mobile app? Is your app purely informational, are you providing a feature that complements your website and business function? These are just some of the questions you should consider when creating your mobile strategy.

In the next installment of our series on “Going Mobile”, we’ll be discussing what a mobile strategy is and what a successful strategy looks like. If you’d like to speak with someone further to discuss your current mobile strategy or if you need help creating one, contact us here.