Wednesday Jul 10, 2013

Going Mobile

Author: Kevin Moulton

Sure, a lot of people have smartphones, but that's OK. Smartphones have browsers. Maybe your website will look a little small, but you figure that people can find what they need, and no one really buys anything on their smartphone or a tablet anyway. They just look. They'll go to a real computer to make a purchase.

Is this correct? No!

Consumers want to be able to do everything from their smartphones and tablets. When they come to your website, if they can't see what they want within a few seconds, they're gone. If your site is just your website shrunk down to on a mobile screen, they won't waste any time there. Someone else will capture their attention, and their business.

The question is not whether have you have to embrace mobile. It's how best to do it.

Mobile web site

You don't need to create a whole new website for mobile devices. You simply need a way to detect what device your customer is using, then display the appropriate elements and render the page in a way that will look good on that device.

And what about logging in? Are you just providing general information pertinent to any user, or do you want the information to be personalized for a particular user based on their previous purchases or other information? Perhaps you want to encourage your customers to login for security reasons, or to help you to personalize their experience. However, while you might see an advantage to this, the consumer might find it cumbersome, or they may be worried about their privacy, so this might be another reason that they go elsewhere. Besides, we all have more logins and passwords than we can remember. 

A better way to go would be to allow your customers to login to your site using an ID that they know and use regularly, such as their Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. This is easier for your customer, and it may even allow you to collect additional information about what your customers like to help you to show them something they will buy.

Is a mobile website enough, or do you need an app?

There are many considerations that go into this decision? If you want to take advantage of native capabilities of the smartphone or tablet, such as GPS, notifications, the camera, or contacts, or you want your customers to be able to store data locally and access it when they are offline, perhaps you need an app. Once you've decided to go with an app, there are many other decisions to be made, such as writing code for a particular mobile operating system, or going with a hybrid model so that you can write your app once, then deploy to any mobile environment.

One of the considerations is who you have on staff, and what their current skills are. If you want to write apps for a specific mobile OS, you may have to hire people with that skill. If you go with a hybrid approach using a development framework, such as ADF Mobile, you can take advantage of Java skills that you likely already have in-house.

Over the coming months, we will delve into each of these topics and many more in greater detail. It's time to go mobile. Oracle can help.

About the Writer:

Kevin Moulton has been in the IT industry for more than 25 years, and with Oracle for 7 years. Kevin is responsible for facilitating technology discussions on social and mobile technologies. He is also a Distinguished Toastmaster. Follow Kevin on Twitter at twitter.com/kevin_moulton, where he sometimes tweets about technology, but might also tweet about running, beer, food, baseball, football, good books, or whatever else grabs his attention. Kevin will be a regular contributor to this blog so stay tuned for more posts from him.

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