Do you need a mobile version of your Web site?
More and more people are accessing the Internet using their mobile phones and tablets. So how do you make your Web site work effectively when accessed from mobile phones and tablets?
Broadly, there are three options – from easiest to hardest:
- Mobile-friendly Web site: Make sure your existing Web site works well when viewed on a mobile device.
- Mobile Web site: Build a separate Web site specially for use on mobile devices.
- Mobile app: Create a mobile app instead of a Web site.
1. Mobile-friendly Web site
A Web site is "mobile friendly" if it works when viewed on a mobile phone. It means you don't have to design and maintain a separate site or app; your main Web site just works.
This isn't as hard as it seems, unless your Web site uses fancy graphic design techniques or complex technology. But if it's designed well, according to the rules of good, solid Web design, it should work.
2. Mobile Web site
The next option is to create a second Web site, which has been designed specifically for use on mobile phones. The advantage is that you can create a trim, fast-loading mobile Web site that only offers the essential features; without constraining your main Web site in any way.
However, it does mean you now have to manage and maintain two Web sites. This increases your workload and expense, and increases the risk of the two sites being "out of step".
Another problem is that the mobile version is sometimes too limited, and is missing some essential features. For example, the Virgin Australia mobile Web site shown above is missing one feature that many users will want when on the road: Flight status, which shows whether a flight is on time.
The third, and most sophisticated, option is to build an actual mobile app for the Apple iTunes Store and Android Market. If you've used apps on your phone, you know they can be more powerful than simple Web sites.
However, there are some disadvantages as well, and the biggest is that it's not a good substitute for your Web site. If your Web site doesn't load well on a mobiel device, it's unlikely that somebody will think of going to the iTunes Store to download an app! It's more likely that they will just leave in frustration.
For this reason, most businesses don't have apps as a replacement for their Web site. If they do want an app that reflects part of their site, they will build a mobile Web site instead (the second option above), and use an app for doing something else related to their business.
The eGurus Community
If you're a member of the eGurus Community, there's a section of the eGurus Vault with resources about mobile marketing.
If you're not an eGurus member, find out about membership at www.eGurus.info.
E-Book and Webinar Recording: Build Your Own Mobile Web Site
Creating a successful app for the iPhone can be difficult – you need to find a good developer, you need to get through Apple's complicated and sometimes arbitrary approval process, there's a delay before it gets accepted into the iTunes Store, and there are further delays if you want to change it in the future. Fortunately, there's another – far better – option: Create your own mobile "mini Web site", which gives you many of the same benefits as an iPhone app, but without the limitations.