Is There a Place for Word of Mouth Advertising in the Digital World?

digital business solutionsLets cut to the chase.  Absolutely!  In fact it is alive and well and possibly more effective today then it was 20 years ago.  It is simply just a process of leveraging where your customers want you to be.  Did you get that?  Not where your comfortable, but where your customers are comfortable.  Here is a graphic of the minimum digital properties your small business should own:

Pitfalls

To this I would caution that email marketing is seeing signs of decline for effectiveness.  Even though the latest studies show that open rates are up, that stat is skewed because of the proliferation of “Deal of the Days” (groupon, livingsocial, etc.)  In a couple of weeks I will share with you why Groupon is bad for business, but that is another post on another day.  In my real world interaction with small business and my email marketing to 40k plus subscribers, there has been a significant decline over the last couple of years.

One item not on this list that I would suggest for the small business owner is a blog.  It is a great way for you to communicate and vent, specifically when it is tied to all of your other digital properties.
Another downside is time.  Some of these products do take time. (which most small business owners don’t have)  The alternative is to hire a service to manage your accounts which can actually be quite cost effective.  However, with the proper connections between all or your products it really is a simple task to post once and have your promotions, events or thoughts travel to all of your digital properties at the same time.

Making Marketing Fun Again

Marketing should be fun.  The reason it became un-fun is because of cost and lack of tracking or effectiveness.  It is very hard today to get a decent ROI on traditional marketing efforts.  Think your TV advertising is kicking butt?  I have a client that purchased $7500 worth of TV advertising and was ecstatic that many of his customers were mentioning that they saw him on TV.  Good…but, I asked him to track new customers and existing by making it part of his greeting: “Hi welcome to _________, have you been in before?”  Yes or No “Did you see our TV ad?”  Here is where it got interesting, a 4 week flight brought in 57 new customers.  Seems like it worked, right?  That is until you divide $7500 by 57…ouch, that is $131 per customer!  We could go deeper into the mathematics of actual ROI by factoring food costs and so forth, but i think you get the idea.  Paying a marketing company a couple of hundred dollars a month doesn’t look so bad now.

Back to the original thought, marketing should be fun.  When you have a mobile marketing platform, Facebook and Twitter, you can put all of the crazy things you have always wanted to do but couldn’t afford the failure of paying the bucks up front.  Here are 5 things to keep in mind:

  1. Make it worth your customers effort.  Groupon didn’t invent half off (75% off for the business owner) just the delivery system.
  2. Have multiple offers and change them up often.
  3. Use your platform to post community events.
  4. Use your platform to announce new product, menu items or special buys.
  5. Get a calendar with all of the obscure holidays listed.  One of our most successful holidays is Emelia Earhart Day.  It took a couple of years but, the rise in engagement was significant.

So go out there and have fun, engage your customers and they will create word of mouth advertising for you and it will by far be the most cost effective marketing you have ever done.

Here is a fun piece we’re doing for the launch of Marketing Reimagined.com :

We’re Nuts

Have Fun, Make Money and whatever industry your in, Provide the Worlds Greatest Experience!

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Small Business Owner Jumps from 1st Story Window, Frustrated While Desiging a Mobile Website

If only the business owner had read this article first.  Mobile Website design is a completley different mind set then a desktop site.  Desktop is content, content, and more content.  And Google likes that.  However, a Mobile Website is all about content, content and more content on a diet.  This is an excellent article on 10 Key Considerations for Your Mobile Web Design Strategy.

 

What follows is a synopsis of an excellent piece written by Brian Casel 

The full article can be found HERE

Mobile Web Site Examples

New Rules for Creativity on a Mobile Website

There’s no turning back now. The web has gone mobile. More users are accessing the web from more places on more devices than ever before. What does this mean for web designers and site owners? It means that in every project we do, we must address a mobile strategy.

Your strategy will differ depending on what type of project you’re working on, but make no mistake, you do need some kind of strategy for how your website (or your client’s website) functions in the mobile space. Whether you’re designing a site that is mostly static (is anything on the web really static anymore?), a content-driven news site, or an interactive web application, it’s best to pursue a well-rounded approach — one that includes a thoughtful look at your mobile website user experience.

In this article, I aim to highlight 10 crucial items that you, as the web designer, developer or site owner, need to consider at the outset of your mobile site design project. These ideas touch on all aspects of a process, from strategy to design and implementation. But it’s important to be accountable for these points up front to ensure the successful launch of your mobile site.

1. Define Your Need for a Mobile Site

Usually a mobile website design project comes about through one of the following circumstances:

  • It’s a brand new website in need of both a desktop and mobile strategy.
  • It’s a redesign of an existing website, which will include a new mobile site.
  • It’s an addition of a mobile site to an existing desktop site, which won’t be changing.

Each of these circumstances brings a different set of requirements, which will help you determine the best way forward as you consider the items discussed below.

2. Consider the Business Objectives

In most cases, you, as the designer/developer are being hired by a client to design a mobile site for their business. What are the business objectives as they relate to the website, specifically the mobile site? As with any design, you’ll need to prioritize these objectives, then communicate that hierarchy in your design. When translating your design to mobile, you’ll need to take this a step further and focus on just a couple of top priority objectives for the business.

3. Study the Data of the Past Before Moving Forward

If this project is a redesign (most web design projects are these days), or an addition of a mobile site to an existing website, hopefully the site has been tracking traffic with Google Analytics (or another metrics tracking software). It is wise to study the data before diving into design and development.

Analyze things like which devices and browsers your users are accessing the site from. While you want to be sure the site is built with device support in mind, you can target these browsers as high priorities when you go from design, through development, testing and launch.

4. Practice Responsive Web Design

With so many new mobile devices being released every year, the days of checking your site in a few web browsers and launching are over. You’ll need to optimize your site for a vast landscape of desktop and mobile browsers, each bringing a different screen resolution, supported technologies, and user-base. As recommended in the well-known article Responsive Web Design, you can craft the desktop and mobile site experiences simultaneously.

5. Simplicity Is Golden, But …

As a general rule of thumb when converting a desktop site design to mobile format, you want to simplify things wherever possible. There are several reasons for this. Keeping file size and load times down is always a good idea for a mobile site. Wireless connections — while faster than years past — are still relatively slow, so the faster your mobile site loads, the better.

Usability considerations on the mobile web also call for a simplified approach to design, layout, and navigation. With less screen real estate at your disposal, you need to choose your placement of elements wisely. In short: Less is more.

6. Single-Column Layouts Usually Work Best

As you think about layout, a single-column structure tends to work best. Not only does this help with managing limited space on the smaller screen, it also helps you easily scale between different device resolutions and flipping between portrait and landscape mode.

7. Vertical Hierarchy: Think in Collapsible Terms

Does your site have a lot of information that needs to be presented on the mobile site? A good way to organize things in a simple and digestible way is to set up a collapsible navigation. Taking your single-column structure a step further, you can stack chunks of large content in folding modules that allow the user to tap open the content that they’re interested in and hide the rest.

8. Go From “Clickable” to “Tappable”

On the mobile web, interaction is done via finger taps rather than mouse clicks. This creates a very different dynamic in terms of usability.

When converting from a desktop to mobile site design, you have to revisit your “clickable” elements — links, buttons, menus, etc. — and make them “tappable.” While the desktop web lends itself well to links with small and precise active (clickable) areas, the mobile web requires larger, chunkier buttons that can be easily pressed with a thumb.

9. Provide Interaction Feedback

Speaking of interaction, you’ll need to make sure you provide obvious feedback for any actions that occur on the front-end of your mobile site.

For example, when the user taps a link or button, it’s good practice to have that button visually change states to indicate it has been tapped and the action has been initiated. It’s common to see a white-colored link turn fully blue on the iPhone when tapped. This visual feedback is familiar to most users and you’d be wise to take advantage of it.

10. Test Your Mobile Website

As with any project, you’ll need to test your mobile website on as many devices as possible. Without owning all these devices, it can be somewhat tricky to find ways to accurately test for each.

This article provides a thorough breakdown of how to test a mobile website across the most popular platforms.

Off you go!

Visit Marketing Re Imagined and Digital Air Media for some other guidelines and other mobile web examples.

3 Reasons Your Company Needs a Mobile Ready Website

Here is a great example of a Desktop Website vs a Mobile Website.

There is no question that mobile phone use is increasing. In fact, there are 331 million wireless subscriber connections as of Dec. 2011 vs. 221 million in 2006. As such, mobile browser use is also on the rise. Data from StatCounter suggests that as of April 2012, approximately 8.56% of website traffic is from a mobile device vs. only 3.02% just two years ago in April 2010.

This sharp increase in mobile browser usage signals a significant shift in how users consume content online. The fact is 63.2 million Americans own a smartphone, 35% of whom access the mobile Internet from their device (comScore).

The question is how can your business best position itself to take advantage of these mobile usage trends?

One logical solution is to build a mobile-ready version of your website. If a complete redesign is not possible, a mobile front end to your site should be considered at the very least.

Here are three reasons why your company needs a mobile ready website:

1. Make it easier for mobile users to contact you. With a mobile ready website you can cut down on the clutter and focus on the important stuff, such as three bold buttons for phone, email and directions.

2. Make it easier for mobile users to read your content. Asking your users to pinch and zoom to read your content is unnecessary and dilutes your message. A mobile ready site allows you to increase readability and decrease frustration.

3. Make a bolder statement and stronger brand impression. Your business has likely invested significant money and resources into branding … don’t let that go to waste with a sloppy mobile presentation.

To see more examples of before and after shots go to Marketing ReImagined

10 Ways Mobile Sites Are Different from Desktop Web Sites

 

By Shanshan Ma

What follows is a great article written by Shanshan Ma of UXmatters (user experience) a great site for inspiration and lessons to address the user experience.  The bottom line is that businesses need to adopt a very different thought process when building a mobile website vs. a full size website.  Enjoy!

StevenB

DigitalAirMedia.com

“The form-factor difference seems to have a dramatic impact on the success rates of users’ interactions, and therefore, should impact how we design mobile sites as well.”

Web site design principles and best practices are becoming well known these days. For example: In a process funnel, progress status should be readily visible across its pages. We should prevent errors from happening, but when errors do occur, provide adequate guidance to help users resolve them.

Many believe the basic principles and guidelines that are applicable in the design of Web sites should still apply when designing for mobile platforms. After all, Web design has evolved from basic, text-based HTML pages into today’s Web standards. So, we might expect that mobile sites that follow the same guidelines could easily reach the same level of success with users that desktop Web sites have achieved.

However, the design of mobile sites is still in its infancy. As Jakob Nielsen’s 2009 study on mobile usability pointed out, users’ success rates when using mobile devices to access mobile sites averaged only 64%, which is quite low in comparison to the 80% average success rate for users who access Web sites on a computer. The form-factor difference seems to have a dramatic impact on the success rates of users’ interactions, and therefore, should impact how we design mobile sites as well.

New principles and best practices will inevitably arise as mobile site design continues to evolve. As a first step toward achieving this evolution, I’ve looked at how some successful mobile sites already differ from desktop Web sites. Based on my analysis of several verticals, including airlines, ecommerce, social networking and entertainment, and travel sites, I have identified 10 ways in which mobile sites should be different from desktop Web sites.

1.  Content Prioritization

“While desktop Web sites often contain a wide range of content, mobile sites usually include only the most crucial functions and features—particularly those that leverage time and location….”

In comparison to the design of Web sites for desktop computers—typically, for a 1024 x 768 screen resolution—the biggest challenge in designing a Web site for a smartphone with a 320 x 480 screen resolution is how to cope with this dramatic difference in screen size without sacrificing the user experience. While desktop Web sites often contain a wide range of content, mobile sites usually include only the most crucial functions and features—particularly those that leverage time and location, as the example Orbitz desktop and mobile Web pages in Figures 1 and 2 show. Mobile site designs should give priority to the features and content users are most likely to need when viewing a site using a mobile device. Having insights into your customers’ needs dictates a lot from a content-development standpoint, as well as a site’s architecture and screen layouts.

Figure 1—Features on the Orbitz desktop Web site

Figure 2—Features on the Orbitz mobile site

orbitz mobile site

2.  Vertical Instead of Horizontal Navigation

“Vertical navigation has replaced horizontal navigation on more than 90% of the mobile sites I analyzed….”

Horizontal navigation, like that on the Urban Outfitters site shown in Figure 3, is a widely accepted means of structuring and presenting content on desktop Web sites. Users scan a navigation bar from left to right, then click a link to go to a different section of a site. A UIE blog post titled “The Challenge of Moving to Horizontal Navigation,” by Joshua Porter, talked about the benefits of using a horizontal navigation bar at the top instead of placing navigation on the side of a page. When a navigation bar is at the top of a page, users can typically more easily focus on page content rather than their being visually attracted to the navigation bar on the side. However, vertical navigation has replaced horizontal navigation on more than 90% of the mobile sites I analyzed, including the Urban Outfitters mobile site shown in Figure 4.

Figure 3—Horizontal navigation bar on the Urban Outfitters desktop Web site

Figure 4—Vertical navigation on the Urban Outfitters mobile site

3.  Bars, Tabs, and Hypertext

“We see much less hypertext on mobile pages. … Links instead appear in the form of bars, tabs, and buttons.”

Hypertext is the signature component of the Internet and the Web, as Figure 5 shows. However, we see much less hypertext on mobile pages. It’s not that pages are no longer linked, but that links instead appear in the form of bars, tabs, and buttons, as shown in Figure 6. The reason for this is the optimization of mobile design for users’ operation of mobile devices with their fingers.

Hypertext is ideal when users click links using a mouse on a computer, but tapping links using your fingers on a touchscreen mobile device is not easy. Users can too easily activate a link they did not intend to tap and accidentally land on an undesired page. This can lead to a bad user experience. Fitts’s law tells us that the time required to acquire a target area is a function of the distance to and the size of the target. Bigger objects such as bars, tabs, or buttons allow users to tap with more precision. It is essential to make the actionable objects on mobile sites big and easily noticeable.

Figure 5—Kayak Web page with links

Kayak full website

Figure 6—Kayak mobile page with no links

Kayak mobile site

4.  Text and Graphics

“Designers often remove promotional or marketing graphics from the designs of mobile sites.”

On Web pages, we can use graphics for many different purposes such as promoting, marketing, or navigating, as on the Dell Web site shown in Figure 7. However, designers often remove promotional or marketing graphics from the designs of mobile sites, as shown in Figure 8. The company logo remains for navigational purposes. Users can tap it to go to the home page. There are several reasons for this transition from many to few graphics. One reason is that some mobile devices do not support the software we traditionally use for desktop Web site design. Other reasons include the small screen sizes of mobile devices and the limited available screen real estate in which to display content, as well as the slow download speeds on mobile devices.

Figure 7—Dell Web page with graphics

Dell full website

Figure 8—Dell mobile page with minimal graphics

Dell mobile website-minimal graphics

5.  Contextual and Global Navigation

“While global navigation is common on mobile sites, contextual navigation is not.”

Desktop Web sites typically use various forms of navigation, as on the Best Buy site shown in Figure 9. Some of them are global and remain consistent across a site, while others are contextual and change depending on where users are on a site. However, while global navigation is common on mobile sites, contextual navigation is not. The Best Buy mobile site shown in Figure 10 provides an example of typical mobile site navigation.

The main reason for the reduction of global and contextual navigation on mobile sites is the limited screen real estate on mobile devices. However, a lack of global and contextual navigation may cause users to find themselves in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where they are. Therefore, it’s essential to reduce hierarchy when organizing the content on mobile sites, so users don’t have to dig too deeply to get things done. They should be able to achieve what they want to accomplish before becoming lost.

Figure 9—Multiple types of contextual navigation on the Best Buy Web site

Best Buy full website

Figure 10—No contextual navigation on the Best Buy mobile site

Best Buy mobile website

6.  Footers

“Mobile sites employ footers that provide access to content users often look for on a home page, keeping its links to a minimum, but they do not use footers containing quick links.”

There are two types of footers that are in common use on desktop Web sites. One type of footer provides links to content that users might expect to see on a site’s home page, but has a lower priority than the primary content on the home page—for example, Careers or Sitemap. Another type of footer provides quick links to content users typically need to view most often. As shown in Figure 11, these quick links are often grouped in lists in a footer, so users have access to them across a site. Mobile sites employ footers that provide access to content users often look for on a home page, keeping its links to a minimum, as shown in Figure 12, but they do not use footers containing quick links.

Figure 11—Footer on the Dell Web site

A typical footer on a full size website

Figure 12—Minimal footer on the Dell mobile site

Dell mobile website with minimal footers

7.  Breadcrumbs

“Breadcrumbs rarely appear on mobiles sites, and there is usually no necessity for them.”

On desktop Web sites, breadcrumbs are an effective way of reassuring users they are on the right page and allow them to backtrack on their navigational path like those shown in Figure 13. They make sense for large, hierarchical Web sites with lots of different content at multiple levels in a hierarchy. However, breadcrumbs rarely appear on mobiles sites, and there is usually no necessity for them. Limited space is one reason breadcrumbs are uncommon on mobile sites. But the main factor is that the design of mobile sites prevents users from having to go too deep into a hierarchy to find what they are looking for. Again, users should be able to achieve what they want to accomplish on a site before they start feeling lost.

Figure 13—Breadcrumbs on Amazon Web site

8.  Progress Indicator

“When users must progress through multiple steps to complete a process … there is often a progress indicator at the top of the page to guide users through the process. Such progress indicators do not appear on mobile sites.”

On desktop Web sites, when users must progress through multiple steps to complete a process—whether they are making a purchase, as in Figure 14, or filling out a long registration form—there is often a progress indicator at the top of the page to guide users through the process. Such progress indicators do not appear on mobile sites. Again, limited space is the main reason.

Use alternative approaches to make users aware of their progress without a progress indicator. For example, instead of using buttons with implicit actions such as Next or Continue, use buttons with explicit labels that inform users exactly what the next step is—for example, Proceed to Checkout or Specify Shipping & Payment. Users still receive information about where they are in a process and what to expect at the next step.

Figure 14—Progress indicator on Amazon Web site

9.  Integration with Phone Functions

“While mobile platforms place many limitations on design and content, they also open up new opportunities that traditional Web sites cannot provide.”

Smartphones are communications devices, so making phone calls is their most basic function. While mobile platforms place many limitations on design and content, they also open up new opportunities that traditional Web sites cannot provide. For example, there is better integration with phone functions such as direct calling and text messaging, which lets mobile sites facilitate ordering products by phone—as shown in Figure 15—or send promotional text messages. Usually mobile sites let users select a phone number, then call or text that number—without having to type the number.

Figure 15—Shop by phone on the Best Buy mobile site

10.  Localized & Personalized Search

“Another area of opportunity that is unique to mobile sites is the use of geolocation services or support.”

Another area of opportunity that is unique to mobile sites is the use of geolocation services or support. While this technology has been available for some time, only in the last five years has it gained traction in the consumer marketplace. Now, it is commonplace for mobile applications and Web sites to take advantage of this functionality by integrating it into value-adding services such as mobile search.

Many mobile devices can automatically detect where users are and give them local search results, as exemplified by the store location search on Best Buy, restaurant search on Yelp, and airport suggestions on Kayak, shown in Figure 16. This capability offers powerful opportunities for businesses to promote their products or services based on a person’s proximity to their place of business and their immediate intent.

Figure 16—Autodetection of geographical location to suggest an airport on Kayak

In Summary

Based on my company’s research, which looked at a number of mobile sites from various industries, I’ve discovered 10 ways in which mobile sites differ from desktop Web sites:

  1. In comparison to desktop Web sites, which usually contain a wide range of content and information, mobile sites usually include only the most crucial and time- and location-specific functions and features.
  2. On desktop Web sites, horizontal navigation at the top of a page is a widely accepted way of structuring and presenting a site’s content. However, vertical navigation replaces horizontal navigation on more than 90% of the mobile sites we analyzed.
  3. Hypertext is the signature component of the Internet and the Web. However, on mobile sites, there are few or no hypertexts on pages.
  4. On desktop Web sites, designers use graphics for many different purposes, including promoting, marketing, and navigating. Mobile sites avoid using promotional and marketing graphics and use minimal graphics for navigation.
  5. Various types of navigation are available on desktop Web sites. Some are global, so are consistent across a site, while others are contextual and change depending on where users are on a site. In contrast, while most mobile sites have global navigation, contextual navigation is rare on mobile sites.
  6. On desktop Web sites, footers typically provide either links to content users might expect to see on a site’s home page or quick links that are available across a site to provide access to content users often need. Mobile sites employ a minimal form of the first type of footer, but they do not use footers containing quick links.
  7. On desktop Web sites, breadcrumbs reassure users that they are on the right page and let them backtrack on their navigational path. Breadcrumbs are rare on mobiles sites and really aren’t necessary, because of the relatively flat structure of mobile sites.
  8. Process funnels on desktop Web sites frequently use a progress indicator at the top of each page to guide users through the process. Such progress indicators do not appear on mobile sites.
  9. Mobile sites offer better integration with phone functions—and present marketing opportunities such as facilitating direct orders by phone or sending promotional text messages.
  10. Mobile sites can take advantage of technology that automatically detects where users are to present local search results. When users set up their preferences or profile, personalized search results become even more relevant and valuable to them.

Mobile Website vs. App (ios-android)

Digital Air mobile website vs. Mobile App (Application):
Which is Best for Your Organization?

Mobile Websites


For Broad Marketing Outreach, A Digital Air mobile website is the Place to Start

If you’re planning to establish a mobile presence for your business or organization one of the first considerations that will likely come to mind is whether you want to create a mobile application for users to download (app) or a Digital Air mobile website, or perhaps both. Digital Air mobile websites and apps can look very similar at first-glance, and determining which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors, including target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.

What’s the Difference Between a Digital Air mobile website and an App?

Before you can evaluate the benefits of a Digital Air mobile website vs. an app it’s important to understand the key differences between the two. Both apps and Digital Air mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices such as Smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets.

A Digital Air mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically WiFi or 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a Digital Air mobile website from a standard website is the fact that it is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface.

Like any website, Digital Air mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as  Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, in similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

Which is Better – an App or a Digital Air mobile website?

When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a Digital Air mobile website, the most appropriate choice really depends on your end goals. If you are developing an interactive game an app is probably going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience then a Digital Air mobile website is probably the way to go. In some cases you may decide you need both a Digital Air mobile website and a mobile app, but it’s pretty safe to say that it rarely makes sense to build an app without already having a Digital Air mobile website in place.

Generally speaking, a Digital Air mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence, whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser.

Advantages of a Digital Air mobile website vs. Native Apps

If your goals are primarily related to marketing or public communications, a Digital Air mobile website is almost always going to make sense as a practical first step in your mobile outreach strategy. This is because a Digital Air mobile website has a number of inherent advantages over apps, including broader accessibility, compatibility and cost-effectiveness.

Immediacy – Digital Air mobile websites Are Instantly Available
A Digital Air mobile website is instantly accessible to users via a browser across a range of devices (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc).  Apps on the other hand require the user to first download and install the app from an app marketplace before the content or application can be viewed – a significant barrier between initial engagement and action/conversion. 

Compatibility – Digital Air mobile websites are Compatible Across Devices
A single Digital Air mobile website can reach users across many different types of mobile devices, whereas native apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device. Furthermore, Digital Air mobile website URLs are easily integrated within other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR Codesand near field communication (NFC).

Upgradability – Digital Air mobile websites Can Be Updated Instantly
A Digital Air mobile website is much more dynamic than an app in terms of pure flexibility to update content. If you want to change the design or content of a Digital Air mobile website you simply publish the edit once and the changes are immediately visible; updating an app on the other hand requires the updates to be pushed to users, which then must be downloaded in order to update the app on each type of device. 

Findability – Digital Air mobile websites Can be Found Easily
Digital Air mobile websites are much easier for users to find because their pages can be displayed in search results and listed in industry-specific directories, making it easy for qualified visitors to find you. Most importantly, visitors to your regular website can be automatically sent to your mobile site when they are on a handheld (using device-detection).  In contrast, the visibility of apps are largely restricted to manufacturer app stores.

Shareability – Digital Air mobile websites Can be Shared Easily by Publishers, and Between Users
Digital Air mobile website URLs are easily shared between users via a simple link (e.g. within an email or text message, Facebook or Twitter post). Publishers can easily direct users to a Digital Air mobile website from a blog or website, or even in print. An app simply cannot be shared in this fashion.

Reach – Digital Air mobile websites Have Broader Reach
Because a Digital Air mobile website is accessible across platforms and can be easily shared among users, as well as search engines, it has far greater reach capability than a native app. 

LifeCycle – Digital Air mobile websites Can’t be Deleted
The average shelf-life of an app is pretty short, less than 30 days according to some research, so unless your app is something truly unique and/or useful (ideally, both), it’s questionable how long it will last on a user’s device. Digital Air mobile websites on the other hand are always available for users to return to them. 

A Digital Air mobile website Can be an App!
Just like a standard website, Digital Air mobile websites can be developed as database-driven web applications that act very much like native apps. A mobile web application can be a practical alternative to native app development.

Time and Cost – Digital Air mobile websites are Easier and Less Expensive
Last but certainly not least, Digital Air mobile website development is considerably more time and cost-effective than development of a native app, especially if you need to have a presence on different platforms (requiring development of multiple apps).

Support and Sustainability
The investment considerations of app vs website don’t end with the initial launch; properly supporting and developing an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is more much more expensive and involved than supporting a website over time.

 

 

When Does an App Make Sense?

Despite the many inherent benefits of the mobile web, apps are still very popular, and there are a number of specific use scenarios where an app will be your best choice.  Generally speaking, if you need one of the following, an app makes sense:

  • Interactivity/Gaming – for interactive games (think Angry Birds) an app is almost always going to be your best choice, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Regular Usage/Personalization – If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis (think EverNote) then an app provides a great way to do that.
  • Complex Calculations or Reporting – If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think banking or investment) an app will help you do that very effectively.
  • Native Functionality or Processing Required – mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.
  • No connection Required – If you need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a network/wireless connection then an app makes sense.

As with any project, when developing an app you want to ensure that your are getting an optimal return on your investment. What you want to avoid at all costs is the needless and expensive exercise of building an app to do something basic that can be achieved with a Digital Air mobile website.

In Conclusion

As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a Digital Air mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.

Digital Air Media is a provider of Mobile/Smartphone marketing solutions for small to medium business.  email: info at digitalairmedia dot com or call 479-685-3142