Any trend that gains enough momentum results in organizations of all kinds jumping on the bandwagon. One inevitable consequence is a surge of mediocrity.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a basic website or a Facebook page or Pinterest, only a fraction of organizations will do it well.
Organizations that employ talentless hacks, who are anxious to capitalize on a trend and will employ only the fastest and easiest ways to make a buck, always outnumber the creative minds at companies willing to invest time and money to do things right.
So it goes with mobile.
As we approach the point where more Internet access occurs over mobile devices than PCs and laptops, organizations are scurrying to deploy apps and optimize their websites. Thus, we’re seeing loads of worthless branded apps and websites that have been shrunk down to fit a four, seven, or 10-inch screen.
Few are examining what the shift to mobile actually means so they can deliver services that accommodate how people actually use the Interest on their phones and take advantage of the law of mobility. (That law states that the value of something increases when you can take them with you).
And there is plenty of data to help organizations consider how the mobile Web experience should differ from its desk-bound counterpart. The Pew Internet and American Life Project released new numbers this week that focus on the just-in-time manner in which people use their phones.
The Project had already explored the spur-of-the-moment donation to a charity via a phone, as well as in-store uses. (Research from Forrester confirms that smartphones are widely used when people are traveling and shopping and people need information right now
related to their current activities.)
Resizing the screens of your current website doesn’t make it easier for your customers to access the kind of information they need when they’re out and about and require information based on what they’re doing at the moment. Nor does an app that may be too clever for words but is largely useless.
Consider how people have used Web-based content on their phones over a 30-day period:
• Deciding whether to visit a business, like a restaurant or bar.
• Getting traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get to a destination.
• Finding the score of a sporting event (ESPN has this figured out; look at their website vs. the home screen of the sports network’s mobile site, shown below).
• Solving an unexpected problem.
• Locating the answer to a question that will settle an argument.
It’s also worth noting that—in the U.S., at least—people spend more of their mobile time on Facebook than any other property, regardless of whether they’re using the mobile website or the app, according to comScore
. Other top smartphone properties included Apple, eBay, Twitter, ESPN, Wikipedia and The Weather Channel.
It’s easy to see how these sites synch up with the just-in-time reasons people turn to their smartphones. It’s your job to figure out how your content and resources can do the same.
Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. A version of this story first appeared on his blog a shel of my former self.