One of the questions I hear more and more from camps is, "What should we do about mobile?" Mobile use is skyrocketing. Although stats are out there to confirm this, you need only observe the people around you staring down at their phones to realize more time is being spent on mobile devices. Still, most organizations are still unsure how to respond to this trend.
What Should Organizations Do?
Although the trend is real, every organization should verify that THEIR audience is accessing their online content via mobile devices. First step? Check your analytics. Your website and eNewsletter analytics should show you how many people are accessing your content via mobile devices (and which ones). If this is becoming a large number, it's time to respond. If not, keep an eye on it and be ready to respond soon.
How to Respond?
If you found out (surprise!) that many people are reading your content on mobile devices, it's time to act. Now what?
First, check your eNewsletters on smartphones and tablets. Is it easy to read? Is it easy to click your links? If not, it's time to simplify your eNewsletters and make sure they are easy to use on mobile.
Next, check your website on a couple of mobile devices. Can you easily click on each of the navigation items? Is the text readable? If not, it's time to consider your mobile options.
Mobile App or Mobile Website?
When organizations find that many people are accessing their website via mobile device AND the experience is less than ideal when they get there, the obvious next question is mobile app or mobile-optimized website?
A mobile website is simply a version of your website that is designed specifically for the smaller display and touch-screen interface of mobile devices; it is accessed via a browser application. Mobile websites are NOT just a re-creation of the functionality of your website in smaller form, however. Time must be spent limiting the functionality and determining the key functions a user is most likely to want to take via their mobile device. Mobile websites may also be able to access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call or location-based mapping.
Mobile apps must be downloaded and installed on the user's mobile device. Apps are often developed for one operating system (Apple's IOs, Android, or Blackberry), although ideally they would work on any platform. Once downloaded, mobile apps can use additional functionality on a device, such as notifying the user of new content and accessing the device's camera. Apps can also be designed to work even without an internet connection.
So...What Should We Choose?
In general, I usually recommend organizations develop a mobile-optimized website before a mobile app. They are often cheaper to build and easier to maintain (the mobile site should pull in fresh content from your basic website). People are also more likely to navigate to your site (from a link in your eNewsletter, for example) than look for your app (*unless your app provides engaging content and real-time notifications).
That said, like any other technology implementation, organizations should consider their own goals and audience to determine which way to proceed.
Two Camps, Two Paths
Both Tamarack Camps and B'nai B'rith Beber Camp have taken on mobile head on. But they took separate paths to reach their users on mobile devices. Want to learn more? Check out the articles below: