Developing a Mobile Site vs Outsourcing

I get it: your developers are already hammered with the main site. Telling them to do more might mean finding new developers; we know that’s all but impossible these days. Going to responsive design seems like a ton of work. And these third party companies offer you the option of going mobile without lifting a finger. Should you just outsource?

In the past it made some sense. Mobile was a small piece of the puzzle and never really drove a ton of sales. But now it’s different. Google estimates that 35% of all searches start on mobile. If you include tablet as part of the “mobile experience” (you shouldn’t), you would be pushing over 50% of your traffic to these sub-sites while you focus on the “main” site with a dwindling amount of viewers.

Here’s the hard truth: we’re almost all behind the eight ball on mobile. Scraping vendors will do a crappy job unless you never update your website. It’s time to bite the bullet and get an internal mobile site that allows you to start tracking sales across browsers. Your main site should handle tablet (be sure to optimize for these users over desktop) and the mobile site should only handle phones. My suggestion is to hire outside developers if needed, but get it up on the same platform as your main site. It’s quickly becoming way too important to outsource.

Most should go with responsive design. It’s not ideal: in a perfect world you should serve up different experiences to mobile users (who have very different reasons for being on your site). Make sure you can look at the analytics separately no matter what. But get it up soon: the world is moving to mobile extremely fast now and we all have to figure out what that means to our business.

In general, mobile sites sell a much higher proportion of best sellers, since you can only focus on a few key products in the mobile experience. Allowing a shared cart so that consumers can move from mobile to your live site is extremely important: customers don’t want to type in a ton of stuff on their mobile device. Mobile sites also tend to take a higher proportion of PayPal and Google Checkout orders.

It’s too late to push this off. You need to be on mobile now.

Restaurants vs. Mobile

Chefs, apparently, couldn’t give less of a crap that you’re trying to read their menu while driving fifteen miles an hour over the speed limit in the general direction of their restaurant. So they build a branding, inspiring monstrosity that puts the menu in flash or some other beautifully useless format.

 

WTH? I’m guessing that three-quarters of visits to restaurants are on a mobile device. The reason Open Table is taking all of your reservations is because they are the only reasonable way to read your menu from a mobile device. I’m not visiting because I want to understand the look and feel of your restaurant. I’m there to see the menu and (assuming it isn’t too fru-fru) book a last minute reservation. Two basic needs. Now hit your favorite restaurant site and see how easy that is.

 

Note to chefs: the future is mobile. Time to start focusing on the mobile site and thinking of the desktop site as a secondary concern. Design for the iphone and make sure it works on a PC running IE. Done.

 

But make sure the food is good first. A good mobile site can’t fix that.