As mobile web traffic continues to grow and surpass desktop Internet traffic the concept of mobile optimisation needs reviewing. I have observed two polar strategies which are typically considered for mobile optimisation: 1. Produce an mSite which delivers a great user experience for the modern iPhone and latest Android devices.
2. Provide an mSite that is basic in design aimed to support as many mobile devices as possible.
Both approaches have their pros and cons. Both should be avoided, if your serious about the future of your online presence.
The first strategy I call "the Elitist", it ensures those with the newest kit and those technically capable of upgrading their device OS get a good experience. The downside is rendering the mobile site unusable by other mobile web users. When surrounded by marketing and mobile hype it is easy to assume everyone has a new fancy mobile - this is wrong. Googles Android stats show over 50% of Android devices that access the Google app download service in the last 14 days are running version 2.3. (Released in 2010) The Elitist approach reduces audience reach. This reduces your capacity to do business or hire new staff over mobile web.
The second approach focuses on basic HTML, delivering a basis design. While this approach ensures a wide audience can access the site, the user experience is typically so poor that more modern phone users simply turn away. This, "the No Frills" approach is readable by many, but some don't like the look of it! It's sounds all gloom, but many mobile web users on older Android, BlackBerry and Nokia devices welcome the no frills site which doesn't crash their mobile.
More recently responsive web has become fashionable, this tactic sits in the elitist strategy. Responsive puts high strain on mobile devices, consumes additional bandwidth and requires recent powerful hardware to deliver a reliable user experience.
As mobile web continues to evolve the gap in capabilities of devices will continue to grow. The problem of mobile web support will hinder us for a long while yet, much like early desktop web support. (Anyone supporting IE6, 7 or 8 today?)
Web technology and programming technology has progressed a long way since the pioneer days of the web (or of WAP). It is feasible to mature the mobile optimisation strategies and bring the two polars together.
I am keen to see more support of the "Suits you sir" approach to mobile optimisation. This approach delivers a great (bandwidth friendly) mSite with the latest user experience tricks for the newsy kit, while tailoring the view to support older devices with more suitable designs and UI techniques. It's the Elite and No Frills merged together!
The challenge with the "suits you sir" strategy is testing, design time and content creation has to be executed multiple times. This increases cost and project schedules. Future changes will cost more as they require more tailoring.
To achieve the "Suits You Sir" strategy and keep costs low, a platform is needed to build from. The platform takes the pain and costs away. The platform provides shared learning and expertise. Ideally the content should be managed in a device intelligent CMS, capable of removing or morphing content to maximise the users mobile investment. This achieves key once entry for content creation.
There are some early devices intelligent CMS tools available - but this is bleeding edge.
(Written on the iPhone)