Answering the “Mobile” Dilemma

Does your business need to be more mobile-friendly? This is a question that’s plaguing everyone from ecomm webmasters to dairy farmers.

The idea that people will just “find you” if they want your business is a self-defeating credo in this modern tech-driven marketplace. At least 90% of us have a cellphone – over half that number owns a smartphone.

Using mobile phone
photo credit: gailjadehamilton

Even kids who build a lemonade stand during the summer months can benefit from having a mobile app to let people know when they can swing by for cold glass of citrus on a hot day.

Building a mobile-ready website is so quick and easy these days, why would any business owner opt to not build one? Even free hosts offer “one-click” CMS installs; most of which optimize for mobile with a click or two of your mouse.

So, to answer the “mobile” dilemma: Yes, you absolutely need to place more importance on the mobile presence of your business.

No more excuses!

Getting “Smart-er”

Let’s take a look at the two most important factors for “mobile-izing” your business: i.e., mobile-optimizing your website and providing customers with a (preferably free) app they can download that helps promote your products and services to them.

Optimizing your company website for mobile

There are more open-source (free) site builders out there than there are bees in a honeycomb. If you have a c-panel hosting provider, you’ll have a ton of options in front of you for CMS software.

However, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all offer the most complete package, and if you run into trouble down the line, there are plenty of programmers out there who specialize in at least one of the three. Support is also top-notch for the most part.

Let’s learn a little more about each. The points listed below aren’t meant to be pros or cons necessarily, just information to help you choose what will work best for your business’s needs and capabilities.

Each are very mobile-friendly in terms of their display and traffic scaling abilities. on iPad
  • Good enough for the likes of Forbes, CNN, and New York Times.
  • Built on MySQL and PHP engines.
  • Offers the least “steep” learning curve.
  • Very SEO friendly.
  • Is known for bottle-necking when traffic numbers climb quickly (“mobile-friendly” means handling lots of traffic at once, right?)
  • Used by sites like ITWire, Harvard University, and The Hill.
  • Built on MySQL and PHP engines.
  • Slightly tougher to master than WordPress; though not as complicated as Drupal.
  • More work to refine your best SEO practises.
  • Can handle tons of traffic simultaneously.
  • Good enough for use by Grammy, Tesla Motors, and the people at ING Direct.
  • Built on MySQL and PHP engines.
  • Hardest free enterprise CMS to master; more flexible than WordPress or Joomla.
  • Easy to SEO any site, though most of the good modules are paid.
  • Can handle lots of traffic seamlessly.

With regard to Drupal: It’s a bugger to learn! Much more flexible than any other CMS, but you have to love the tech stuff (coding) if you’re not planning to hire someone to maintain your Drupal site installs and maintenance.

There are also plenty of custom solutions out there, if you wanna pull your wallet out.

Providing current and potential customers with a mobile business app

Read through this article before getting started:

The link contains some important considerations you need to make before the app conception stage. I’m going to detail some free options you can use to build your own app, but the Forbes article makes some great points on the choice of whether to go “hybrid” or “native”.

Hybrid apps are made to be used on multiple platforms (iOS, Blackberry, Android, Window’s Phone), so you can imagine there will be certain compatibility problems for certain users. The more complicated the app, the more chance it won’t be well received. Functions like “auto-rotate” and “voice command” are very common hangups that happen on certain devices with hybrid apps – they can be difficult to remedy and can/will happen during any OS update.

Native apps are built for a specific platform. If you know your demographic well, you might decide to try just one or two platforms to start with, then move on if your app’s a success.

Check out this video before you take the plunge into app-devving on your own:

Here’s a list of app development sites you can visit. I’ve chosen these three because they’re the most popular (with a free option that is). Each of them offers you the option to build a single app for free (though Appmakr is strictly for native Android apps).

Most of them also includes cloud-based storage options, and up to 1,000,000 data pushes to your customers. Best, if you get in trouble, they offer support and upgrade plans if you decide to pay for more apps later on – or get an expert to fix what you already humbly started on your own!

There you have it folks…

This “mobile” thing isn’t going away anytime in the foreseeable future.

Time to line up at the starting gate if you find yourself still sitting up in the bleachers!

More Reading: