If you are in any doubt about the value of having a mobile component for your website, the fact that Facebook is throwing its full weight behind mobile should set that to rest. It makes a lot of sense, and not only for Facebook.
The number of people carrying around mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and Galaxies is only going to increase in the future. Squinting at your website on these devices may not be the optimal experience for your audience.
Think of your website as the full menu you have to offer. Now, when your people are on-the-go, do they want the whole sit-down three-course meal? Likely not. More likely they are snacking. They need a quick byte of information as they run errands or between meetings. The fact that they have a minute and they are using it to come to you, means that the more streamlined and targeted your mobile service is, the happier they will be. If they have to remember to look something up when they get back to a computer, you have lost them in that moment. Or worse, if they go to a competitor's site and find instant gratification, you may have lost them for good.
So what are the options for offering mobile service? That depends. Some sites can get away with offering a “responsive” layout, which simply compresses the full website down in response to its detection that it is serving content to a mobile device. Typically a responsive site will drop out heavy bandwidth-hogging elements like videos or large graphics. The navigation will alter itself to fit the screen. This is a cost-effective way to serve your audience for many sites.
Now, if you have a commerce site that sells products, responsive may not be enough. The more products you have, the less fun it will be to shop from a phone or tablet. You may want to consider a custom mobile application for this type of business. You want your mobile shopper to be able to look up your wares quickly, especially if she is standing in a competitor's store.
Comparison shopping has never been easier. Make sure it works in your favor. Another side to the mobility factor is for you to be able to do business wherever you are. If you have not had a look at Square (https://squareup.com/), you are missing out. This is an app that works on your iOS or Android phone that allows you to accept credit card payments without having to have a pricy merchant account. A prominent toy store in the area used it to continue sales a few days before Christmas when their power went out for several hours, disabling all their credit card readers. Add Freshbooks (http://www.freshbooks.com/) to the mix, with cloud accounting from any browser or device, and you have no need to spend hours in front of the computer catching up on the day's accounting.
The technology available to small businesses today has never been more exciting. The time to mobilize is now! http://online.wsj.com/article/
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