Be Smarter Than Your Cat!

I am sure you are smarter than your cat!

By now we have all seen that playful puss chasing an imaginary ball of wool on a tablet computer. Me, I would by a real ball of wool and spend my money getting my site implemented to work on these tablets and smart phones. And I’ll show you how to save money and do that for possibly peanuts.

But first let me step back and remind you that I have spoken about mobile web sites before as far back as when the dot mobi domains came into being. Hands up those who have followed my advice! Not very many at all except for a few larger players.

Did you know that 12.74 million mobile handsets were sold in Australia in 2010 which equates to over 34,000 handsets sold each day? Globally we rank 37th with each of our population owning 1.4 such a devices of whom some 84% are connected to broadband.

That ranks us 4th in the world as mobile broadband users.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have about 1.6 phones per head whilst Montenegro leads all with nearly 2 phones per capita. There are 5.9 billion mobile subscribers which equates to 87% of the world population. There are now 1.2 billion mobile web users worldwide, based on the latest stats for active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide; Asia-Pacific is the top region and that includes us.

Many mobile web users are mobile-only (they do not, or very rarely use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the web). Even in the US, 25% of mobile web users are mobile-only.

Mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year, for many items one in seven searches are now mobile. Did you know 71% of smart phone users that see TV, press or online ads do a mobile search – will they find your mobile site or your competitors?

Remember 1 in 8 mobile subscribers will use m-ticketing in 2015 for airline, rail and bus travel, festivals, cinemas and sports events. Leisure and holiday bookings are part of this.

The mobile aspect of every day life will increase at an ever accelerating rate with the use of mobile financial services and touch transactions that are already trialed and will be rolled out in the next few months. If nothing else this will just increase the overall use of the smart phone.

So do you still think you don’t need a mobile site?

I know what you are thinking. This is all well and good but it is still a substantial expense to register a dot mobi domain, have it hosted and have a new web site designed. Well here is the good news. If you already have a hosted domain, and most of you do, the task of giving it a mobile address is very simple.

Now I must admit that I was sold (as most others were) that the dot mobi domain was the only way and hence essential. Certainly it is preferable to have it at least registered to protect your brand, but thanks to Matt Coutts, currently the head of Google’s Webspam team, we find that Google is quite happy to accept a second level directory and index it as another domain. What that means is that, just as you would do on your computer, you can add another “folder” to your existing web site, give it its own address and Google will still index you. That directory would contain your brand new mobile web site and be treated as a sub-domain. No extra cost there!

So how would that work? Because you already have a domain which you have marketed and established your brand presence you have a number of choices all of which are based on the same premise. Our options would be to use .m, .mobi, mobile, wap, or wireless as these are recognised conventional names.

To make it simple for your client the .m prefix suggests itself. Yes it does break with the www convention but as illustrated in the table by Ground Truth the current conventions have us use prefix or suffix naming as follows:

AN36 - 2 - Management Table

Ground Truth comments that of the mobile-centric domains, the prefix “m.” and the “.mobi” suffix appear about equally but sites using the “m.” prefix serve 21 times more pages than do “.mobi” domains. Following in popularity (by number of sub-domains) are the “mobile.” prefix and legacy “wap.” prefix.

That breaks down to the obvious. If your domain is called to get the best mileage you would use for your mobile site. As one can see from the table, usage drops off dramatically after .mobi.

In the past, site rendering was a significant issue except perhaps for iPhone and android devices because their web browser capabilities are really good. With the advent of HTML5 web page design has become platform independent and all devices work equally well.

Interestingly the industry expects that android devices will predominate.

By 2015 the projections are android 49%, Apple 17% and Symbian (such as Nokia) 0.1%.

I have just completed my first and fairly complex web site using HTML5 and CSS3 and managed that without any real problems. The elephant in the room, as often is the case, was Internet Explorer but enough work around coding has been done by many clever people to overcome most of that also. So if an old dummy like me can do it anybody can.

As you can see there are several options available for your new mobile website and coding is straightforward. So if you find that if someone else is already using your .mobi somewhere else in the world, then you still have options. What is important though, is that in 2012, if you’re in business in Australia and don’t have a mobile website then you’re really going to be left in the wake of your competitors that do.

Enough tools exist to have designs converted to suit both worlds. Have a chat to your webmaster as hopefully your site is already coded with CSS which then makes it quite easy to migrate to HTML5. You do keep your website nice and fresh don’t you? Now here is another good reason for doing so!   

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