It’s 2012 and smart phones and tablets are taking over the world!

Well, not quite, but according to whichever facts you read (yesterdays are already out of date), there are more devices than people in the United States! Many organizations are already employing a “Mobile First” strategy whenever they deliver content for the web. It’s all about design and user-experience and less about “shiny new objects.”

A few of my devices – Ipod and blackberry are missing!

That’s a big deal.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Should you jump on the bandwagon and create an app? Should you invest in a “mobile-ready” website? Is this really expensive? Do I need to hire a programmer?

All great questions, but feel free to take a deep breath. “Mobile” has been around for years. In fact, one of my expert friends, Judy Brown, has been pursuing mobile learning studies for over 15 years. It’s not new, but the ways we can use the capabilities of the new devices are and continue to progress.

Before you go and spend $100k on a robust app (I know some who have done this in the corporate/government world), take some time to think on a few thoughts and learn more about the following:

  • Who is your target audience? – Perhaps your target audience doesn’t use devices that much OR maybe they just won’t be using them for the purpose your product or service. Or, maybe they don’t live or work in an area that has great reception for mobile access.
  • Are you already mobile?– Chances are you didn’t know that your very own website is already mobile friendly. In some cases you need to modify the settings in the administrative section, but most are making mobile-read formats a default option. In fact, you’ll notice some websites looking more simple and elegant now to ensure that they easily translate into the many different browers available on devices. Online options that already have templates that serve up your content differently when people access your website from a mobile device:
  • What are downloadable apps vs. web-based apps?
    • Downloadable apps (typically through app stores) are often based upon a particular activity that the user is going to perform (e.g. play a game, draw something, calculate using built in equations, etc.) The programming involved and the amount of interaction the user has with the screen often makes the “app” a pretty big file size. We all know how difficult it is for the web to handle really large movies, games, etc. A downloadable app allows you to download that huge file to your device and play it “offline.” Now, some apps we like to call “blended apps” because you download them, but they still pull pieces and parts live from the web while you are using it. Of course all downloadable apps aren’t Angry Birds in complexity. Some use simple HTML templates (e.g. jquerymobile) that create a look and feel of an app, but they could technically just be offered through a normal web-page…which leads me to web-based apps.
    • Web-based apps (mobile apps)– sometimes the terms get all intertwined, but many of you probably have experience with web-based apps. For example, if you want to pay a bill from your phone, you may go to your bank website and it looks different on your phone than it does on the desktop.

  • Who is your target audience? – Perhaps your target audience doesn’t use devices that much OR maybe they just won’t be using them for the purpose your product or service. Or, maybe they don’t live or work in an area that has great reception for mobile access.
  • Are you already mobile?– Chances are you didn’t know that your very own website is already mobile friendly. In some cases you need to modify the settings in the administrative section, but most are making mobile-read formats a default option. In fact, you’ll notice some websites looking more simple and elegant now to ensure that they easily translate into the many different browers available on devices. Online options that already have templates that serve up your content differently when people access your website from a mobile device:
  • What are downloadable apps vs. web-based apps?
    • Downloadable apps (typically through app stores) are often based upon a particular activity that the user is going to perform (e.g. play a game, draw something, calculate using built in equations, etc.) The programming involved and the amount of interaction the user has with the screen often makes the “app” a pretty big file size. We all know how difficult it is for the web to handle really large movies, games, etc. A downloadable app allows you to download that huge file to your device and play it “offline.” Now, some apps we like to call “blended apps” because you download them, but they still pull pieces and parts live from the web while you are using it. Of course all downloadable apps aren’t Angry Birds in complexity. Some use simple HTML templates (e.g. jquerymobile) that create a look and feel of an app, but they could technically just be offered through a normal web-page…which leads me to web-based apps.
    • Web-based apps (mobile apps)– sometimes the terms get all intertwined, but many of you probably have experience with web-based apps. For example, if you want to pay a bill from your phone, you may go to your bank website and it looks different on your phone than it does on the desktop. Bank of America – desktop versionThat’s because they’ve (usability experts and interface designers) determined that you are most likely to perform certain banking actions on the phone compared to actions you would have taken on your desktop. They arrive at this from beta tests, usability studies, and customer feedback. Plus, they see the backend and know where you click…every.single.time. So, they want to create the best user experience possible while not creating more work for themselves.

  • Who is your target audience? – Perhaps your target audience doesn’t use devices that much OR maybe they just won’t be using them for the purpose your product or service. Or, maybe they don’t live or work in an area that has great reception for mobile access.
  • Are you already mobile?– Chances are you didn’t know that your very own website is already mobile friendly. In some cases you need to modify the settings in the administrative section, but most are making mobile-read formats a default option. In fact, you’ll notice some websites looking more simple and elegant now to ensure that they easily translate into the many different browers available on devices. Online options that already have templates that serve up your content differently when people access your website from a mobile device:
  • What are downloadable apps vs. web-based apps?
    • Downloadable apps (typically through app stores) are often based upon a particular activity that the user is going to perform (e.g. play a game, draw something, calculate using built in equations, etc.) The programming involved and the amount of interaction the user has with the screen often makes the “app” a pretty big file size. We all know how difficult it is for the web to handle really large movies, games, etc. A downloadable app allows you to download that huge file to your device and play it “offline.” Now, some apps we like to call “blended apps” because you download them, but they still pull pieces and parts live from the web while you are using it. Of course all downloadable apps aren’t Angry Birds in complexity. Some use simple HTML templates (e.g. jquerymobile) that create a look and feel of an app, but they could technically just be offered through a normal web-page…which leads me to web-based apps.
    • Web-based apps (mobile apps)– sometimes the terms get all intertwined, but many of you probably have experience with web-based apps. For example, if you want to pay a bill from your phone, you may go to your bank website and it looks different on your phone than it does on the desktop. Bank of America – desktop versionThat’s because they’ve (usability experts and interface designers) determined that you are most likely to perform certain banking actions on the phone compared to actions you would have taken on your desktop. They arrive at this from beta tests, usability studies, and customer feedback. Plus, they see the backend and know where you click…every.single.time. So, they want to create the best user experience possible while not creating more work for themselves. Bank of America – mobile browser versionOn the backend they put certain tags in the code that pulls content from one page and displays it on another in a mobile-ready format. That way, if they change content on the main site, it will automatically be updated on the mobile-ready pages. Other coders just put pieces of code in their pages to tell them which pieces of content do/don’t show when the page shows on a device and when/if it should show on the desktop. This is becoming fairly normal and many organizations now have a “Mobile First” strategy for presenting content on the web. Here’s an example of a site I’m very familiar with where the programmers “pull” content from the main website to display in this web app so they update content in one spot and it populates to this site. http://www.dau.mil – Check it out on your device? We’ve even set it up for tablets to display the mobile version.
  • How do I know if I need any kind of app for my business?
    • First of all, if you have a website created in the last couple of years it is most likely already mobile-friendly …or the provider is in the process of making it so. After all, they are competing for your business.
    • Secondly, you might not need one if all you are doing is presenting content, sharing typical info through typical online mediums (e.g. video, blog entries, discussion boards, etc.).
    • But, you might need one if you want to provide any of the following:
      • Personal Support Tools – need to track miles run, weight loss, calories consumed?
      • Reference Information – glossary, dictionary, tips and tricks.
      • Process Flow – step-by-step process to help remind people how to perform a task.
  • Is mobile here to stay? Yes. Need I say more? No, but I will. It is here to stay and it continues to be an innovative powerhouse for delivering content.
  • What “counts” as mobile?This is really important. A lot more “counts” as mobile than you might think. Smart phones and tablets have blown it wide open. In Africa most people don’t have a computer, but they have a cell phone. Text messaging has been huge there for years. Asia too. The U.S. has actually been somewhat behind. Text messaging can be a powerful way to deliver messages, spaced learning and drip marketing. Now that we are beyond cell phone into the smart phone and tablet era, there are so many options – email, phone, text messaging, video, web-apps, native apps (from the app stores), regular websites, cameras, recording options, etc. Mind blowing to actually have all of these capabilities at your fingertips!

Stay tuned for more!

Full Disclosure: Part of my day job is leading a Mobile Learning Initiative. So, these are thoughts off the top of my head, but I promise to follow up this post with well thought out info and more examples.

Posted by nudgestrategist

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