Should you commission mobile website design for your website (a website which re-renders your existing website for use on the web)? Or, should you build one or more mobile apps - applications which are downloaded onto users smartphones? Perhaps you should do both - or maybe none at all.
Like all business decisions, the key factors in your decision will be investment vs. return on investment. How many users do you currently get to your website who browse on a mobile device? How much potential could you release by launching a mobile app and should you concentrate your efforts initially on iPhone or Android?
Many companies worldwide are investing heavily in mobile to capture what is undoubtedly a growth market.
Mobile websites can be designed to be flexible to the different mobile devices used to browse them. Many mobile websites have flexible widths so that the user simply has to scroll up and down (using their thumb on one of the latest touch screen smartphones).
The cost of the development is less than that of app development and mobile websites can be intergrated into existing website design. Many mobile websites are simplified versions of the main company website with low rez photographs and text only pages allowing them to be easily downloaded by customers on the move. A big consideration is the speed of access. While sometimes, users may have their mobile phones connected to wireless networks, they may often be connecting through the G3 network. If this is the case, download speeds need to be kept to a minimum.
Currently 4.7% of web browsers use mobile devices. But, with smartphones set to overtake standard phones by the end of 2011, this number is on the sharp increase. 4.7% is just an average. If people find your website and it is horrendously difficult to navigate around on a mobile device then they are unlikely to return. Conversely, if you are one of the few businesses in your marketplace who has a good mobile website, then they are more likely to return (rather than search again & have the possibility of being dissapointed).
A mobile app is a program which is downloaded an sits on your customers smartphone. The big benefit of an app is that once installed, it is perminantely there and (on many smartphones) quite difficult to uninstall. Apps are generally designed to be easier to use than the mobile websites although it does depend. In the first place though, you do have a benefit with an app that you can simply click on it and it loads up rather than googling or typing in www. to find what you're looking for.
Apps can be integrated into the core areas of the phone. Many apps use Google Maps in combination with the phones GPS to pinpoint the users location. Other apps use the phone's camera / video options to make the applications even more usable.
As a mobile agency, we get involved in all kinds of work with mobile advertising and marketing including Mobile Marketing for the iPad, Mobile Marketing for the iPhone and Mobile Marketing on Android.