Del Padre welcomes you to a new year (and a new decade, if you’re one of those that consider the “10th” in a series of years as the last year of a decade, and not the first year of a new one). Another Christmas season has come and gone, and its time to hunker down and get back to work. Check on the loot you scored this season. If a modern smart phone is amongst your new stuff, then your business may have received a gift of its own. For one, it can be used to take advantage of QR codes, as we explained in a previous post, but even more so, your phone can finally now surf the web with a level of quality that can rival your desktop, complete with high-quality pictures and text, streaming video, Adobe Flash (if you have an Android). And with the deluge of phone deals from every major retailer during the run-up to Christmas, including tempting two-for-one deals, its a lot more than people of business who can find you on the web via a phone. You may have heard of another rumbling where internet-ready mobile devices will overtake desktops as the way people view the web by 2015, according to analysts from Morgan Stanley. A couple of years ago on lesser phones, this would have been laughable. Now that statement is much more solid and believable.
So, go visit your site on that fancy phone of yours. How does it look? Have your thumb and index finger been getting a workout with all the pinching and scaling you need to do to see the content on your site? The problem is that a majority of sites were built with the desktop in mind, because, well, that was the only feasible game in town, where mobile browsing was “cute”, at best, with drastically scaled back abilities on tiny non touchable screens. Now we have the visual power, more or less, but still have a screen with a size and resolution much smaller than a traditional desktop. Does your web presence adapt well to this environment, or is your finger swishing left and right to constantly scroll the desktop sized content, coupled with pinching to read your text in that small but-oh-so-stylish font size you love? If your site isn’t up-to-snuff for mobile, don’t feel bad, only 40% of the top 1,000 websites have a mobile version, and that percentage plummets to under 20% when you expand the pool to the top 500,000 most visited sites.
So should this be a concern for you? Will you be losing business left and right because people are having difficulty viewing your site on their smartphone, and are passing you by? Don’t panic. Right now, despite the trend going mobile, we predict that not all industries need to be concerned about how they are represented on mobile devices, at least not yet. There are some industries, however, that need it a lot more than others. Let’s make this totally clear now, if you are a nightclub, restaurant, or any other hot spot, you NEED to get on mobile. Yesterday. More and more savvy young people in the nightlife determine their night’s activities based on or near the spot. They’ll be away from the computer or TV, so websites they can access on their phone can be the difference-maker. This goes even more so if your sales are based on tourism traffic. Its one thing to attract the attention of locals that are familiar with you and your competitors, but tourists that don’t know the area mean a level playing field, and are likely to use the variety of travel-based search engines (like TripAdvisor) to find a place to eat or go have fun during their stay. If you have a version of your site that’s well-designed for mobile, with easy-to-read copy and layout, while your competitor’s “all-in-one” (ie no mobile, all desktop) frustrates them, you could win another family of four coming to dine at your place. Foot-traffic based businesses can also take advantage of location-based apps such as the popular Foursquare to drive traffic to their location. We’ll cover some strategies using these unique location-based phone apps in a future blog post (which, by the way, will be happening with much more frequency in 2011).
On the other hand, if your model is more B2B, you may be able to hold off on a mobile version of your site for now, for the simple fact that its much more likely that your clientele is spending their day in front of a traditional desktop or laptop, and is doing just fine with what they got right now. One thing to consider, regardless of your industry, is that Google has a separate index for mobile content, and that index is still in its relevant infancy, so having a mobile site and site map for that index can put you ahead on mobile searches by default alone, and give you a jump when your competitors finally get on board.
Sooner or later, you need to consider targeting other platforms other than the desktop for your website. Contact us at Del Padre for a consultation, and together we’ll see where you are currently and what you need to do to better position yourself for that portal to the world that’s in your hand.