More SmartPhones are being purchased today than desktop computers and mobile phone users are becoming more and more demanding. They expect fast download times and easy navigation when viewing websites or it’s “Hasta la vista, baby,” and they are on to another website.
As a small business owner, you know that your website is your "calling card" of the 21st century. Today prospective customers often see your website before they meet you or visit your establishment, and they use it to gauge their interest in your products or services before you even know they exist. Often users are on the go and searching for you in-between other activities and don’t have time to spare. They are also paying their service provider for bandwidth and would prefer to visit websites that load fast, and thus, keep their monthly data usage charges low.
If set up properly, your full website can detect a mobile phone or tablet and redirect the user to your mobile version automatically. The mobile version will then include a link back to the full website, giving the user a choice in the matter.
As the Internet grows your choices for delivering fast and easy SmartPhone versions of your website increases. Currently you have a choice between a mobile version of your website, or a mobile app, or a device app.
A mobile website is a scaled-down version of your full website that includes the most frequently searched information. Use your common sense plus your website’s traffic statistics to help you decide which information to include. Information that is searched less often can be left out as it can still be found on your website’s full version. Your mobile website can be built completely using CSS and XHTML, with two versions of the navigation system – one for SmartPhones and one for less sophisticated mobile phones. Include a smaller version of your logo and leave out the photographs, unless they are necessary for product sales, in which case, make them smaller.
Full websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps are stored on web servers and the user accesses the content from the server, so a connection to the Internet is required.
Device apps are downloaded and stored on the users device, which means they can be used without Internet connectivity, however, they do take up space on the users device. Creating device apps for iPhones Blackberrys, Androids, other SmartPhones requires Objective C, Java, or other programming languages and apps designed for iPhones and iPads require approval from Apple before they can be made available in the iTunes store. Device apps give you endless possibilities for sales promotions.
Mobile website, mobile app, or device app… which one do you choose? Mobile websites are the easiest to build and are sufficient for most small businesses. If your clientele is more technically inclined and you don’t have a huge amount of data, a mobile app is your best bet. And, for those of you wanting to give the user a true mobile experience, consider having a custom device app built for your business.