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6 Steps to a Successful Smartphone Website (part 4 / 7)

Step 3 - Repurposing Your Desktop Website vs. Building a Custom Mobile Experience

You have decided to create a mobile website. You defined your goal and created a prioritized list of users, now you are ready to start and you are probably wondering, if I already have a desktop website wouldn’t it be easier and faster to “tweak” what I have so it works for both, mobile and desktop users?

Before we answer this question, let’s confirm we are on the same page. According to Mary Meeker, we are in the midst of a technology cycle, and new winners and losers will emerge from this trend. If you are like me and believe mobile devices are a huge opportunity, then you’re probably thinking about implementing the best possible mobile strategy and not just crossing one more item from your weekly to-do list.

To make a decision, let’s meet some of your potential visitors.

Meet Jane the Handywoman (and Smartphone User)

Jane is a small business owner. She manages a small team of handymen and supervises the work to guarantee complete customer satisfaction. She is always on the go, checking the work of her team when it’s finished, visiting potential customers and buying parts and tools among many other things she needs to do to run her business.

Even though she is a handywoman, her most valuable tool is her smartphone. When she is with a potential customer giving an estimate, she uses her phone to find parts and see prices. When she is shopping for tools, she checks other stores to find the best possible deal. She even uses the time when she is in line at the cash register to ensure she’s getting the most for her money.

Jane is a great example of a smart buyer.

Meet Joe the Office Manager (and PC User)

Joe is the office manager at Jane’s handyman company. He is in charge of managing the schedule, defining and implementing office policies, organizing office operations, preparing timesheets and maintaining the office in general.

He is always at the office and his main tools are a fixed phone and a PC.

His job involves searching for information on how to improve the office operations and office policies for him and his colleagues to be more productive and motivated. Also, Joe is responsible for placing orders and following up on them.

Joe is a good example of the “traditional” Internet user

What are the differences between Jane’s and Joe’s usage patterns?

Joe is at the office, using a large monitor, a browser that supports a wide range of multimedia formats, has a high speed Internet connection and his average session is 56 minutes long.

Jane is on the go, using a device with a 3.5” screen, a browser that supports limited multimedia formats, has a slower Internet connection and her average session is under 5 minutes long.

Today, most websites have been carefully crafted for Joe. Companies have analyzed Joe’s usage patterns to define the information that goes in their website, flows, navigation structure and every element that is included in the screen.

Now back to the initial question. Should you “tweak” the website you built and optimized for Joe (or just implement an adaptive layout) and give that to Jane? If you have 56 minutes of Joe’s time and less than 5 minutes of Jane’s time, should you offer both users the same flows and content? Is that the strategy that will make you a winner in the mobile world, or are you leaving room for your competition to do better than you?

This is my opinion:

Desktop and mobile users are different and if you want to win in the desktop and the mobile web, you have to win each battle separately

But, having said that, there can be exceptions where you can target both channels with the same site. For example: if you have a small website with a very simple navigation structure and a small amount of content then a single website with an adaptive layout may work for both users.

We have gone through a lot of info and hopefully you feel ready to start your site. Next step is picking the right CMS.


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