Posted on February 15, 2010 - by David Etheredge
Why every business needs a mobile website
If you haven’t already heard the news, Smartphones are here to stay. Just a few minutes with Google and you can unearth tons of data pertaining to mobile device and smartphone sales projections – for example multiple research firms predict (one example here) that the global mobile market will approach 6.0 billion subscribers by 2014 with something like 33% of those devices being smartphones. Yes, that’s 2.0 billion smartphone users texting and surfing the web while they try to steer their Mini Coopers with their knees. Roads and highways are destined to get a LOT less safe over the next few years. But that’s a different article for another day.
This series of articles is going to explore website design for smartphones. Specifically three questions;
- Do companies need to develop a mobile website in addition to (or instead of) a traditional website?
- What should be the goals of a mobile website?
- What is the process for developing a mobile website?
By the time we’re done, you should have a pretty good grasp of the “why?, what? and how?” of mobile website design for the next generation of web enabled smartphones.
If your business currently relies upon a traditional website for marketing, lead generation, sales or support, then you should strongly consider building a dedicated website for mobile devices. In December 2009, Gartner (the self proclaimed “world’s leading information technology research and advisory company”) dropped this bombshell in a report outlining their Information Technology predictions for the next several years; by 2013 mobile devices will surpass personal computers as the most common web access device worldwide.
Let that sink in a minute or two. In just three years, people globally will be more likely to visit your website using a smartphone than a computer. This fantastic post at ‘If only we’d thought of that’ digs a bit deeper into some of the findings of the Gartner report. Foks, we’re talking about a universal paradigm shift here and the implications are staggering.
Clearly a signficant part of the growth in mobile device sales will come from emerging markets in areas like South America, Africa and India where a large number of consumers can’t afford large ticket items like personal computers and where high speed broadband infrastructure simply won’t exist. But even in the U.S. where personal comuters are almost ubiquitous, you only have to walk into your local Best Buy to see where the market is going – smartphones reside in the most visible section of the store, right in front of the entrance, while personal computers are relegated to the bowels of store – against the far back wall.
It’s a fair bet that U.S. consumers who don’t already have a connected device; the poor, the young or the old, will be more likely to enter the market through a $100 smartphone than a $1000 PC. Best Buy certainly thinks so.
What this means for busineses is pretty clear. If you want to remain relevant to the millions of consumers who will be using smartphones as their primary device for browsing the web, you must have a website optimized for mobile browsing. And you’d better get it done soon because over the next few years, consumers will be increasingly more likley to decide which products and services they wish to buy and who and where to get them from based on information they gather on their phone.
In other words, those businesses that have a high quality, easy to use mobile website which properly drives consumer behavior will have a significant competitive advantage over businesses that do not.
All the big boys are doing it. Geico, Coke and Nike are just a handful of the major national brands scrambling to differentiate themselves from competitors by staking out positions on the mobile web. The mistake that many startups, local and regional companies make is assuming that mobile marketing is too expensive or complicated for any but Fortune 500 companies to pursue.
Not so! If you already have an effective web presence you are only a few steps away from being able to effectively market your company on smartphones.
In the next article in the series, ‘Website Design for Smartphones – Part 2′ we’ll explore the goals of an effective mobile website.