No longer an option: mobile websites


No longer an option: mobile websites

My mind has been focused on the adoption and usage of smartphones this week, due to the impending launch of Apple’s iPhone 4G.  In the U.S., most mobile users are looking to smartphones for their next purchase/upgrade (of those who do not already own a smartphone).  Currently, over 25% of the U.S. population have smartphones.  More noteworthy, Nielsen predicts that by the end of the 2011, more U.S. cell phone subscribers will own smartphones rather than feature phones. 

Nielsen also reports that only 3% of smartphone owners utilize their device only for voice use.  Thus, we have a booming ownership group leveraging the device for photos, Internet access, applications, location-base profiling, and more.  In my own studies, one of the most prominent disappointing factors these users experience when utilizing the device is the inability to purview a website.  Many users I have spoken to become frustrated when accessing a website remotely, only to experience a site unreadable (scalable) or sensible for a mobile reader. Companies, organizations and brands can no longer ignore this pertinent touchpoint.  Mobile websites need to be adopted on universal scale instead of viewed as an ancillary website offering.  True, mobile websites may not be getting the attention as apps are today, but they must not be overlooked nor forgotten if your consumers are accessing the Internet via their mobile devices.

·         Mobile websites are needed by all, not only the large companies/brands nor early adopters.  Prospects, readers, consumers are all accessing the Internet via smartphones.  This is not a venue for only large companies; it is an important media form for all companies (big or small).  For some, this even becomes your phone book listing that lives right at the source of the phone.  Be present and “brand alive” where your target market is. 

·         Your audience is no longer tethered to a computer for information.  Your prospects, consumers and users have busy lives.  They may not have the luxury of spending time at home purveying the web before they venture on a shopping trip or need to make a phone call.  They may be in a discussion with a friend or family member while away from home that demands the need for information.  We live in a 24-hour news cycle where information is demanded to be at one’s fingertips.  Be accessible where (and when) they are.

·         Your audience reaches out to your company/brand on their smartphone.  Convenient.  Transportable.  Simply put: the smartphone lives where your consumer lives.  It is crucial to align the purpose of a mobile website with the need of your consumer: Why would she reach out to the company, product, or brand on her phone?  Where is she in her daily routine?  Where is she location-wise (near store, in store, at the office, at a coffee shop, etc.)?  What is her primary need? What is her frame of mind?  How can you solve her problem, make her day easier, and delight her?  Understand and be her.

·         It is more useful to your shopper.  The shopper is increasingly sophisticated in her use of technology.  Her decision-making path has been altered.  She now seeks information outside of the home.  She is able to fact check product claims, product compare, price compare, and even order online through her smartphone device.  If your website is not easily accessible, nor readable, she simply moves on to a competitor site.  In turn, that competitor is more likely to become her go-to resource and win her business.  Be supportive when she needs you.

·         There is a new generation growing up on smartphones.  We speak often about digital natives, the generation that has never known a time without computers nor the Internet.  Digital behavior is intrinsic to them.  When on your next public outing, take a long look around yourself, the teens of today are texting, uploading photos, accessing Facebook, and searching for movie listings on their smartphones.  Be your future.

(Post by Anne Gibson)

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