Mobile Web. This term has been increasing in popularity in recent years, but what exactly do people mean when they use this phrase? In a sentence, mobile web is exactly what it sounds like- accessing the Internet from a mobile device. However, an understanding of mobile web goes much deeper than this, and continues to grow each day as new capabilities are discovered. So, you ask, what exactly are the distinguishing factors that make the mobile web, the mobile web?
It travels with you.
One obvious advantage of using mobile web is that you can access it almost anywhere with a smartphone. With the increasing coverage of 3G and Wi-Fi hot spots popping up all over the place, consumers have constant opportunities to use the capabilities of the web. This means you can access websites and visit mobile apps that use the web, like Facebook, all while riding in the car pretending to listen to your mother-in-law. Today’s consumers constantly have a phone in hand, which means they are constantly exposed to the content and advertising on the Internet.
It’s not the same web that can be accessed from a computer.
Many companies are making mobile specific websites that are made to be smartphone friendly, meaning you don’t have to zoom way in and out to view the content on a page. A mobile website will usually have larger and less buttons to simplify the website. However, many companies have been slow to jump on the bandwagon, so when their website is accessed on a mobile device, users are stuck dealing with the full html website. This is slowly changing though, and before long almost all websites accessed from a mobile device will be designed for optimal user interaction.
It enhances mobile users’ experience by amplifying the device’s capabilities.
This is a strong point for mobile web, because not only does one get access to Internet on the go, but one is also able to combine functions of the device with the capabilities of the Internet. When thinking of web on a mobile device, one may think of surfing the Internet through a browser. However, many mobile apps draw information from the web or run almost entirely from the web. Consider Amazon’s mobile application. It not only allows you to search and shop from Amazon quicker than getting to the mobile website, but you can also scan items or even take pictures of items you want to search for using the camera built into your device.
Another capability with mobile web is the use of context aware services. Mobile devices are learning an increasing amount of information about their users. Location, weather, state of user (walking/sitting), availability of user (from calendar) and more can be leveraged to personalize the Internet to the user. For example, the device knows your location and in effect can be aware of the weather; it might advertise umbrellas to you on a rainy day. Additionally, a quick search done on your phone for an Italian restaurant for dinner would automatically produce results for restaurants in your vicinity.
Desktop is shifting to mobile.
Mobile web usage is expected to surpass desktop web usage by 2014. People are shopping with mobile as an aid for research before making a buying decision; it is becoming exceedingly important for companies to have a mobile presence. That being said, just having any sort of presence doesn’t guarantee success. If you are outsourcing your mobile development, it is crucial to choose a partner who offers the strategy to determine the best mobile presence for you, whether it be a mobile site, a web application, or a QR campaign that leads users to your mobile landing site. At the rate consumers are shifting to mobile, companies who do not take advantage of it will be left behind in a short matter of time.