Smart phones, iPods, tablets and netbooks have joined the venerable laptop on the list of web-connected mobile devices. Screen sizes range from under an inch to 10 inches for leading tablets like an iPad rental, wreaking havoc with many website layouts. This motivated Microsoft, Google, Vodaphone and Nokia to form Mobile Top Level Domain (Mltd) as both a source for the dot-mobi domain and a promoter of new standards.
So what’s the big deal? A huge audience, that’s what. There are about 330 million cell phones in the U.S. alone, with Apple selling a big chunk of them (plus iPads, iPods and Macs). Add in all the Android tablets and e-readers and the number gets big enough to make marketing managers positively giddy. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) estimates that some 75% of mobile devices already access the Internet and, as time goes by, more of them will have real browsers.
General rules for website design
All businesses need to make it easy for clients and customers to connect with them. That used to mean a Yellow Pages ad. With the advent of the Internet, it came to mean a website viewed on a home or office monitor. Today it means being available to people everywhere – at home, at work and, increasingly, on the go – whether they’re using a phone, an iMac or a laptop.
So, what’s the best way for your site to meet the mobile challenge? Here are a few rules of thumb:
• Take a test-drive: At the very least, your company’s basic business information (name, address, phone, e-mail) should display clearly on a cross-section of mobile devices. Visit your site from a smartphone or two, a 7- or 10-inch pad and a tablet PC rental, for example. If you need a new site to accommodate mobile devices, you will know it immediately.
• Your existing site may work: If it is simple HTML, without e-commerce capabilities and a Content Management System (CMS), your current site may be fine for mobile devices. If it is, you can get away with simply registering a dot-mobi extension and forwarding visitors to your existing site.
• Color counts, too: If you are going to tweak colors across devices – using calibrated color management or Pantone color-matching – you need a big, high-resolution monitor made for color accuracy. Of course, this perfectly describes our plasma display rentals.
• Double up: If you have a complicated site, it may be best to host a brochure or bullet-list version of your website on your dot-mobi domain (same as your .com, if possible). Remember, your mobile site exists so that people can find and contact you, quickly and simply, by phone, e-mail or a (secure) browser form.