A one-size-fits-all approach to solving problems rarely seems to work in the real world, and the mobile Web is no different.
Up to this point, most mobile sites have been developed by re-hashing traditional Web content and squeezing it onto the small screen—an unfortunate “Mini-Me” approach to mobile Web design. The result? While the traditional Web becomes more useful and creative every day, the significance of the mobile Web has largely stalled. The mobile Web has yet to realize its awesome potential, and the problem isn’t a technology issue like you may be already thinking. The problem is design, or rather, a lack thereof, within the mobile medium.
1. The Mobile Web is Not the Little Sister of the Traditional Web.
What makes a mobile site so different?
It’s not the screen size—it’s the intent of the user. Very often, traditional Web users browse the Web for entertainment or to kill time. Even when traditional users need to perform work-related tasks, they are easily sidetracked by Twitter, YouTube, or any of the thousands of social networking sites.
Mobile users, on the other hand, typically browse the mobile Web when they are in need of specific information. These experiences tend to be much shorter than they are on the traditional Web, and users rarely browse for entertainment purposes. Let’s just be honest with ourselves—if a user could be in front of a computer, that’s where he or she would be.
Suppose that you were offered a chance to view a new Red Hot Chili Peppers music video on your phone. Would you actually navigate to the video and watch it, when you could just as easily view it on a speedy home computer? Re-purposing traditional Web content and stuffing it into a mobile browser is a recipe for disaster. Instead, it’s time to look at the mobile Web as a uniquely distinctive medium.
2. Give People What They Want, When They Want It.
All mobile Web users across the globe want the same thing: the ability, at any time, to easily access any information.
What this means for mobile Web designers and developers, is that first and foremost, we need to approach mobile Web sites as an information-architecture problem, and NOT as a technology problem. Mobile Web sites should be formatted in a way that allows users to easily navigate and make decisions. Users don’t want to dig through the clutter of a traditional Web site to find the tiny link they were looking for.
Companies that merely ensure their existing Web site is viewable on mobile phones, have, for the most part, wasted their time and money. This is primarily because this type of mobile Web site will likely be hard to navigate through, or be terrible looking. All too often, users get frustrated when they can’t find the content they are looking for. This fact is exactly why wireless carrier “decks” exist.
3. Build Unique Mobile Content, or Don’t Bother Building Anything at All.
Mobile is a unique medium and it should be designed with this idea in mind. If you are not willing to rewrite, modify, or create custom mobile content, then don’t bother creating a mobile site in the first place.
This point is best illustrated by an example:
A university could easily mobilize its existing Web content to create a mobile Web site, but do freshman really need to be able to schedule classes from their phone when they are lost in the Quad? The answer should be, obviously, no.
Wouldn’t the university mobile site be more effective if it was limited to custom information that is relevant for on-the-go students—such as mobile maps, a one-click phone number directory and faculty office hours? The answer is yes.
4. Make It Useable. Make It Useable. Make It Useable.
Mobile Web sites MUST always work on every phone. Period.
What this means is that mobile Web designers need to consider multiple screen sizes, as well as multiple technologies. A mobile Web site should dynamically transcode content such as forms, images, videos, ringtones and layouts, so that any user, with any phone, can enjoy a seamless browsing experience. Users should never have to tell a mobile site what kind of phone they have—it should already know.
Consider that for the traditional Web, designers and developers need to account for differences between Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Opera, screen sizes, color depth, Flash versions, and more. Why would mobile be any different?
5. Don’t Forget About Design. Seriously.
Mobile Web surfers are still consumers, and consumers are deeply impacted by design. Don’t believe this? Allow us to introduce you to a fine company called Apple.
Because the concern at the forefront of people’s minds has been technology, brands and agencies often neglect the importance of design in the mobile space. It is almost assumed that because the mobile Web has to work on every mobile device, it can’t also look great. We couldn’t disagree with this mindset more.
When a mobile marketing firm approaches a mobile Web design project, it should design a series of visual layouts for a client that illustrate how the mobile site will look on a variety of different devices. For example, our firm refines a selected visual design concept into a WML layout (old school WAP 1.0), an XHTML-MP (WAP 2.0) layout at several different screen sizes, and (when possible) an iPhone-specific layout. The goal here is to ensure that no matter what phone is viewing the content, it will look its absolute best.
1. Think about the mobile Web in a new way. Get creative.
2. Clear and concise information-architecture specific to mobile is an absolute must.
3. Create compelling mobile content or don’t bother at all.
4. Mobile sites have to work—always. No ifs, ands, or buts.
5. It’s called mobile Web DESIGN. Not mobile Web cram-it-on-the-screen.
About Punchkick Interactive
Punchkick Interactive is America’s first design firm to focus exclusively on full-service mobile marketing. The firm specializes in creating text-message campaigns, mobile games, Flash Lite content, branded mobile Web sites, custom BREW and Java ME applications, iPhone apps, mobile media distribution systems, Bluetooth proximity marketing campaigns, and more. For additional information about mobile marketing visit http://www.punchkickinteractive.com or call (800) 549-4104.
It would seem that WiMAX’s impact on mobile technology in the United States might be closer than we all originally thought.
NextWave Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE), a global leader of all things WiMAX, announced that it has retained Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank to explore the sale of its extensive spectrum holdings in the United States. NextWave’s U.S. spectrum footprint covers over 251 million people in the United States and includes major markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, and Detroit.
What drove the surge? Possibly Allen Salmasi, chief executive officer and president of NextWave Wireless, when he remarked:
Since the completion of the recent 700 MHz auction, we have received multiple offers for our U.S. spectrum assets. [N]ow is the perfect time for us to sell these valuable assets while network operators are trying to finalize their band plans and spectrum holdings for their continuing 3G and planned 4G rollouts. Monetizing the value of our substantial spectrum assets would allow us to further strengthen our balance sheet, retire debt, and continue the commercial introduction of a wide range of innovative wireless broadband and multimedia solutions such as our high-performance WiMAX and RFIC chipsets, advanced multi-mode, multi-band TD-CDMA, WiMAX and LTE enabled base station platforms, breakthrough MXtvTM and TDtvTM mobile television systems.
As a resident of the United States, I’ve longed for the latest mobile phones from Japan, Korea, and other more “tech-fortunate” countries throughout APAC and Europe. I live in arguably the most powerful industrialized nation on the planet, and yet I still can’t video chat from mobile to mobile like they do in Japan. My free-phone-with-a-two-year-commitment doesn’t come with a QR Code™ reader pre-installed. And, let’s be honest, most entry level phones in the States don’t even include Bluetooth or a 1.3 megapixel camera. Until recently, I was convinced that the U.S. mobile market is behind the times.
So what gives?
Very recently, a number of studies have surfaced leading me to think that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t so bad on this side of the pond. For example, according to the CTIA in Wireless Wave Fall 2007 – A Continental Idea:
[..] earlier this year Merrill Lynch reported that Europeans still pay an average of 19¢ per minute for an average of 153 minutes a month, compared to 5¢ per minute for 834 minutes a month for customers in the U.S. The U.S. is the leader in offering bucket plans, driven by competitive market forces to offer more minutes at a lower effective rate.
3G penetration stats are looking up, too. According to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, President of Chetan Sharma Consulting, “Because of the heavy penetration of the Internet over the desktop, as well as the late advent of 3G in the market, there was not a big driver for mobile Internet until the last one or two years. As 3G penetration has been increasing[,] now we’re up to 15 to 16 percent penetration (in the U.S.).”
M:Metrics — which conducts an on-going survey of thousands of wireless customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. — recently found that a slightly higher percentage of U.S. consumers browse wirelessly for news and information than their European counterparts.
The study also shows that the U.S. is at the top in average number of minutes used per month at 832 (Canada, the number two country, averages 429 minutes). The country with the lowest average revenue per minute — a measure of the effective price per voice minute — is again the U.S. at $0.04 USD (South Korea and Mexico are tied for the number two spot at $0.11 USD). And finally, the number of wireless carriers with over one million subscribers is the largest in the U.S. at 10 companies. The country with the next highest number is the England.
My conclusion? Maybe it’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side.
Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) February 1, 2007 — Mobile technology is the newest media channel of advertising, say market researchers. And with over 200 million mobile phone users in America, today’s mobile phones have become capable of much more than flashy ringtones. The possibilities for creative marketing and product branding are limitless — and innovative design firms are taking notice.
Cleveland-based design firm Punchkick Interactive recently made the leap to mobile when it shifted gears from Web design to working exclusively with mobile devices.
“We saw a potential for unbelievable growth,” said Punchkick Interactive co-founder Ryan Unger. “Mobile marketing is so new that we haven’t come close to seeing its full capabilities. It’s like the Internet of the early 90s — a sleeping giant.”
And he’s not alone in his belief. This year alone, billions will be spent on mobile phone based advertising, and an increasing number of companies are recognizing the value of non-traditional marketing strategies. The recent success of viral videos on YouTube® have proven that niche marketing can be a powerful way to stretch advertising dollars and produce impressive results.
Mobile marketing can take on a number of different forms, including product-branded games, text-message campaigns and customized mobile applications.
“Mobile development can be challenging because it requires a strong grasp of programming and interface design in order to develop content compatible with different mobile phones,” added Unger. “Every phone is unique and has its own screen size and memory specifications.”
“Nevertheless,” he said, “It’s a type of marketing that, when done correctly, can create an incredible impact.”
After several weeks of development, punchkickinteractive.com is officially live.
Punchkick Interactive is an advertising agency that works exclusively with mobile devices. Specializing in mobile technology and development, Punchkick Interactive utilizes a team of programmers and designers to create engaging mobile content. Underlying all that we do is a passion for combining fresh ideas and technical know-how with incredible design.
Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, Punchkick Interactive began as a freelance Web-development company headed by then design student Ryan Unger and his frequent collaborator, Zak Dabbas. Over time, Punchkick Interactive evolved into a mobile design firm, thereby keeping in line with the company’s objective of constantly creating within the cutting edge.
Our business relationships and the quality of our craft are possibly the two most important elements of who we are. It’s the relationships we make that fuel our creativity and keep us going—we suppose you could call it a compulsion to please. But quality of craft—that can never be compromised. Ever. We don’t do “half-finished.” And we don’t do “acceptable.” And we certainly don’t do “just fine.”