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Enterprise Mobile Web Strategy

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With the proliferation of devices in various screen sizes and running different OS, having a coherent mobile web strategy has become somewhat of a nightmare for the enterprise. Gone are the days, when the enterprise would just optimize the existing web site for mobile and let the content be served. Today’s consumer with the ever powerful device and increasing bandwidth is looking for experience that is equal to or at times better than the web.

When trying to create an mobile strategy, enterprise need to ponder over this
  • Should I build a native application for the mobile device
  • Should I build a mobile optimized web site

To be able to answer these questions, you need to study the consumer usage patterns and ask
  • What is the value the information provides to the consumer?
  • What is the frequency of access of information by the consumer?
  • What is the experience I want to provide to the consumer?
What is my business all about? E.g. If the enterprise is in the business of movie screenings. The consumer is interested in the information with regards to the nearest theatre location, what movies are playing, their timings and how can I buy the tickets. The user will be accessing the application multiple times during the month. In this kind of scenario, having a dedicated application is must.

But there will other consumers who have not yet installed the application. For such user’s your web site should be optimized for mobile access and provide the same information and features. In the end, you can ask him to install the application to make the future search and transaction a lot easier.

Having an application also allows you to tap into the features of the mobile device to provide an enriching experience to the consumer. E.g usage of accelerometer, camera, GPS, compass can greatly enhance the consumer experience.

But, if your enterprise is not direct consumer market, having a mobile optimized web site might will do and you need not create a native mobile application.

So, overall your mobile strategy needs to keep in mind these

  • You definitely need a mobile web strategy, meaning a mobile optimized web site. Whether you need a dedicated mobile app or not depends upon your answers in the earlier section.
  • Make sure you optimize the web site across all major mobile platforms (Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry) and across the common device screen sizes
  • Make sure you try to leverage mobile device features - accelerometer, camera, GPS, compass etc to enhance the experience
  • Make use of the technologies that allows to build and deploy a common code base with little variations across devices. HTML5, CSS3, webfonts should be used when building your mobile applications
  • Keep the mobile application design simple. Single column layouts work the best with vertical hierarchy menus. Go easy on the data consumption, today’s devices are faster but consumers do not like application that just hog their bandwidth. Try to keep images to the bare minimum
  • When building mobile applications, keep the usability aspects of mobile devices in mind. Taps vs clicks – means larger buttons are required, instant feedback (e.g. change the button colors to indicate that the action has been registered), typing is usually difficult – having a tap based options help.

Next step comes to the tools that can be used to build the native mobile applications
  • Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 offers developers one tool, one development framework and one codebase to build mobile applications on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS. It is one integrated development platform that allows you to create mobile application for multiple platforms. You can build very rich UI that make use of device features like accelerometer, camera, GPS, compass etc. You can make use of your enterprise assets - java libraries when building solutions
  • PhoneGap is an open source development framework for building cross-platform mobile apps using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The tool enables developers to utilize the core features of the iPhone, Android, Palm, Symbian and Blackberry smartphones, including geolocation, accelerometer, contacts, sound and vibration to build applications
  • RhoMobile offers Rhodes, an open source, Ruby-based framework that allows for development of native apps for a wide range of smartphone devices and operating systems(iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, RIM and Symbian)
  • Appcelerator provides the Titanium Development Platform which allows for the development of native mobile, tablet and desktop applications through typical web dev languages such as JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby and HTML
In addition, if you are looking for just the mobile optimization of your web sites and functionality then look for offerings from - netbiscuits, mBlox, iLoop Mobile, Crisp Media, Quattro Wireless, 3Cinteractive.

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