Should Your Site Be Optimized for Mobile Users?


I continue to be surprised by the number of sites that don’t seem to have a mobile strategy.

A good Computerworld article, “Got a mobile strategy? Start connecting with customers’ smartphones; Don’t have a strategy for interacting with customers via their mobile phones? It’s time to get one, and learn from previous mistakes,” lists some key steps to consider to help develop a mobile strategy:

  • Study your customers’ demographics and mobile behaviors — this should be a given for any company contemplating a redesign of its website.
  • Explore mobile-specific functionality such as location awareness — clearly this is more important for retailers with offline locations.
  • Decide whether to build a site that’s compatible with multiple devices or optimized for specific types — again, that depends on customer demographics and to some extent the type of organization.
  • Make sure all of your customer channels feature a consistent look and feel, while being sensitive to the fact that the interfaces on small devices must be easy to navigate — this is essential
  • Integrate the mobile applications with back-end systems that hold customer, inventory and product data — linking everything together keeps things efficient.
  • Learn which technologies you need to support, either in-house or through contractors. They include Objective C for iPhone applications and Java for Android systems — you may have to contract out for specific platform expertise.

The article also lists some criteria for once you’ve developed your mobile strategy, but now need to figure out how to implement that strategy:

  • Does the site use a .mobi top-level domain?
  • Can the site automatically detect a mobile browser or device?
  • Does the mobile site offer different functionality than the desktop site?
  • Is the site optimized for mobile browsers?
  • Is the site optimized for the iPhone?
  • Does the retailer’s main Web site have a landing page that details the company’s mobile offerings?
  • Does the retailer offer downloadable apps for the iPhone or BlackBerry, or for Windows Mobile and Android devices?

Not every company will need to offer downloadable apps, but a recent New York Times article, “What Do All These Phone Apps Do? Mostly Marketing,” points out that phone apps are really a way to market a company. That perspective could open up new thinking to widgets and apps.

Meanwhile, check out “Analyzing the Analytics: How to make sense of your website’s performance data” in the Oct. issue of Entrepreneur, which makes several good points, including: set trackable goals.

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