As mobile devices outsell laptops for the first time ever by more than nine million units, according to IDC reports for fourth quarter in 2011, mobile websites are growing concurrently. 3G coverage, which has already seeped into Europe, Japan, Africa, and the Middle East, has almost reached twenty percent of the globe. This meteoric rise has staggering implications for consumers, developers, business owners, and virtually everyone else. In order for these markets to best benefit from the new web regime, they will have to learn the nuances and advantages of mobile web development.
The mobile web space strives to establish reliable and convenient web access for tablet and smartphone owners through touch and talk interfaces. The most important consideration for mobile web developers, whether they are converting from a desktop page or building a mobile website from scratch, is that the transition to mobile devices involves much more than a simple re-sizing of content through CSS3 code adaptation or similar methods. MobiThinking's Compendium of mobile web statistics, released in 2011, refers to a number of consumer trends to reinforce this idea. According to the report, mobile consumers want faster, more specific results than desktop users. This is affirmed by the popularity of mobile banking, shopping, news, and sports pages and applications. So what exactly makes a mobile web page different from desktop pages, and how can it benefit result-driven businesspeople?
When they first surfaced in the late 1990s, mobile web pages were coded in simple and versatile languages like WML and XHTML with the goal of simply breaking into the mobile environment. Now that they have surpassed that, mobile websites use more complex variations of HTML to better cooperate with new hardware and mobile device capabilities. These advancements allow for faster downloading, quick scrolling, finger-sized buttons, and other conveniences that desktop websites don't provide. With the help of collaborative efforts by Microsoft, Google, and other companies that require websites to format for easy conversion, mobile websites are easily rendered from their desktop counterparts. This greater accessibility has helped increase the number of mobile subscribers to six billion, as smartphone sales increase by double-digit percentages every year. For small business owners who design intelligently, this explosive frontier delivers exposure, prestige, and growth.
Savvy mobile developers optimize their web pages to best accommodate the more immediate and specific needs of mobile web subscribers. Making the "locations" link the most visible feature, for example, allows customers to quickly pull up a business's address when they are en route. While general information about businesses should be provided, it should be more concise and less emphasized than with desktop environments. A useful frame of mind for mobile developers to don when prioritizing information is that of the news journalist. They must minimize fluff and present the most important facts through a seamless interface. The booming success of simple applications like Wells Fargo and Paypal, who take users straight to their accounts with a quick log-in, is a testament to the power of accurate and efficient content targeting.
Unlike earlier generations, today's mobile web developers can utilize features of mobile devices to improve their website's capabilities. The majority of smartphones now have automatic dialing, GPS capabilities, accelerometers, voice recognition, and dozens of other technologies that make it easier for mobile web developers to integrate useful features into their sites. Businesses especially can use smartphone hardware to easily provide contact information, offer coupons, give directions, and more.
Having witnessed such failed technologies as IBM's "Pcjr" and "Microsoft Bob," business owners are justified in their initial skepticism of smartphones and mobile web design. The projections for smartphone usage, however, which are almost unanimously agreed upon, are irrefutable. It is predicted that by 2014, mobile web usage will surpass desktop internet access. Just last year, more than half of local searches were conducted with mobile devices. A quarter of U.S. Citizens only access the internet through mobile devices. Market research performed by Mashable and other web marketing authorities confirm these findings with reams of similar statistics.
Lastly, and most importantly for many burgeoning entrepreneurs, mobile websites cost much less to develop than traditional websites. Today, a small business of around 25 employees will spend anywhere between two to twenty thousand dollars building a website. Conversely, mobile websites require fewer features and less code. Thanks also to CSS3 re-scaling and other shortcuts, developing a mobile website can cost as little as a thousand dollars.
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