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Do You REALLY Need a Mobile Version of your Website?

SmartPhone. Two or three years ago the rage for webmasters was mobilizing their websites and, at the time, I wrote about my search for a mobile solution for this site.

But I don’t have a mobile version of this site now and, although it occasionally crosses my mind, I don’t have any plan to get one.

Here’s why: 2011 is the year of the tablet, and it’s not going to change next year.

The year of the tablet

Although handheld (mobile) web access is growing strongly, consider why people access the web on a handheld – meaning an iPhone, an HTC Desire or a Nokia E7.

All the people I spoke to told me they use it for email or quick access to information, not to browse or study important documents.

Need the latest cricket score? The weather forecast for tomorrow? A stock price? A handheld does the job.

But people wanting to read a step-by-step process for dismantling their car will go for a bigger screen, complete with the accompanying diagrams and images.

Browsing or reading detailed information is done on a laptop (or desktop) – or, if you’re out and about these days, a tablet.

And there are plenty to choose from. I counted 39 different models on Wikipedia, and those are just the ones released since 2009.

Tablets are here to stay and they’re growing in sophistication, power and features.

And they’re perfectly capable of displaying your website in all its original glory.

So should you be scrapping the mobile version of your website?

Not necessarily.

Look back at the reasons people access the web with a handheld: email or quick access to current information.

If your site is delivering current (even real time) information, such as sports scores or stock prices, then the chances of your target audience accessing your site on a handheld are high.

In which case a mobile version will make their life easier.

But this site is not delivering real time information. It delivers tutorials and step-by-step processes for doing things (complete with images and diagrams).

So no mobile version.

Add the fact that mobilizing this site requires another plugin, and that all the mobile plugins I’ve tried (bar one) created problems, and not having a mobile version of this site becomes a no-brainer.

I’d love you to argue with me 🙂

Cheers,

Martin Malden

 

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anna@acne treatments 25 May, 2011, 9:58 pm

    Hi,
    I would like to argue with you too, but you talk too much sense:-)

    For most sites I really cannot see how a mobile version would help, as you say mobile screen are really too small for intense browsing, but I think they may work for social sites quite well, profile viewing etc, although I haven’t tried it.

    I would imagine the majority of mobile browsing is done by the younger generation, as they are the only ones who know how to operate their mobiles properly 🙂

    • Martin 25 May, 2011, 11:13 pm

      Hi Anna,

      Believe you me – I don’t always (or even often!) talk sense..! 🙂

      But yes, I agree that social sites probably work quite well on handhelds – at least the ones I’m familiar with: Twitter and FB.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Chen Hoi 26 May, 2011, 11:46 pm

    Hi Martin,

    I totally agree!

    In fact, I believe there would be a strong demand for developing tablet version along with website development in the coming years. However, this would not be a total replication from the website but instead a customized interface for specific need.

    Cheers

    Hoi

    • Martin 27 May, 2011, 6:39 am

      Hi Hoi,

      A tablet version – I’d not thought of that one! 🙂

      What kinds of things do you see webmasters needing to develop for tablets?

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      • Chen Hoi 27 May, 2011, 10:24 am

        Hi Martin,

        I just think the user interaction for web surfing behavior has actually been shifting from “click” to “touch”, and so the interface development would need to be adapted for that case.

        However, yes, if eventually the website itself is designed to be tablet-ready, then webmaster would just need to maintain one version. When I look at our new TBWA site (www.tbwa.com), that’s pretty much the idea of one site for both desktop and tablet.

        Cheers.

        Hoi

        • Martin 27 May, 2011, 11:23 am

          I understand – so a trend towards using images or symbols rather than text links, for example..?

          A site design that’s more tactile in appearance, with the ability to click and drag to move up and down the page, like touch and drag on an iPad, but while viewing it on a laptop/desktop, and which a user with a mouse can still use in the same (more traditional) way if they want. Interesting!

          BTW – I loved the Zimbabwe Trillion Dollar campaign (being from Zimbabwe myself),

          Cheers,

          Martin.

  • Steve 27 July, 2011, 8:45 pm

    I focus on Restaurants and yes you need a mobile version!

    • Martin 27 July, 2011, 10:03 pm

      Yes – I can see people would want to check out restaurants on a hand held when they’re on the move, no question…

      Cheers,

      Martin.