It’s a fact – more people are connecting to the Internet via their mobile phone than ever before. This trend will continue to grow at an incredible pace. It’s expected by 2013 that there will be over 134 Million people in the USA alone, accessing the Internet via their mobiles. This trend brings up some interesting questions about the development of mobile websites. With companies advocating that they are mobile website development experts, simple plug-ins promising optimal mobile experiences, and the bustling market of apps offering user-friendliness – what is the best option for a mobile website? Well that depends on a lot of factors, let’s have a look at each of these areas and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Mobile Website Plug-ins
No matter what CMS your website is built on, it’s likely that there is a plug-in promising it will create a mobile-friendly version of your website for your mobile customers. These plug-ins are often free, but can cost you a couple of bucks to use. The truth is, you get what you pay for. A truly mobile-friendly website offers a different type of functionality than its desktop counterpart. Every websites requires a mobile strategy, and each and every website will have a different strategy. With this in mind, how could a plug-in know and understand your mobile strategy – not to mention that of every other site it’s used on? To truly offer your customers a unique experience you require a mobile strategy custom-built for your website.
Plug-ins work as a last resort – but shouldn’t be relied upon as an ideal method for converting a website into a mobile-friendly one.
Yes apps are cool, but studies have found, unless you’re a game, a social network or music – you shouldn’t be even considering an app. With that said, I also must give credit where credit is due. There are plenty of successful apps out there for companies outside of these categories. eBay for example launched a highly successful app that’s streamlined their tried, tested and true auction format into an app. In our opinion, apps are great if used for the right purpose – and creativity and ingenuity are rewarded. If you’re considering an app – take a holistic view of the app target market – if you truly think your app product will sell – build an app, but our advice? Build a mobile website as well as a back-up.
Another thing to consider – unless you’re selling the app itself, many customers are still averse to buying items through their mobile phones. Although likely to change in the near future, with increased security and protection – desktop versions of website still bring home more bacon.
Mobile Website Development
There are specific features all the best mobile websites have. All these features can be summed up with one word: simplicity. A mobile website must be simple – a reduction of content, little to no images, lots of whitespace, simple menus, large fonts and one-click functionality are all aspects that improve the customer experience on a mobile site. These features require a custom-build to align to your websites customers – no plug-in can accomplish all this for any website. Build a strategy around your mobile website, identify the content your mobile customers will require – and make a website to fit those needs. Hiring a firm to do this may be costly, but if your goal is to offer an optimized mobile web experience – it’s a small price to pay.
What do you think? Do you have another opinion? We’d love to hear…