Here’s a piece of old news: the mobile web is the future. If you’ve been keeping up with the times, that won’t be surprising to you: business has been drifting mobile-ward since Apple first established mobile web devices as a fixture of American culture with the advent of the iPhone in 2006.
Here’s the new news: the mobile web is the present. According to an internet traffic forecast from networking giant Cisco, internet mobile traffic rose 70% in 2012; by the end of 2013, Cisco projects the number of networked mobile devices will exceed the number of human beings on the planet.
From the capitalist standpoint, here are five reasons to embrace the mobile web:
1. Measure n times, cut once
As the mobile web is exploding, so is the variety of devices users are surfing the web with. Android beat out iPhone in Q4 2012, and while Android devices have a lot in common with each other, their underlying architectures can be a headache for teams of developers trying to support aps across an increasingly diverse user base. A mobile website with responsive design, on the other hand? A good team can create an interactive website from scratch that will be compatible with Android, iPhone, and desktop computers, without having to scurry down the money-sink rabbitholes of designing dedicated apps for each device. (See: theverge.com, Gmail, or Facebook.)
2. You needed front-end developers anyway.
Face it: Every product needs a website, whether it’s a hot new social network or a special new kind of homeopathic butt cream. Your website is often the first a potential customer sees of your branding, so you’d better make sure it’s pretty or your competitors are going to be snickering and muttering under their breath about “Angelfire” and “Web 1.0.” If you’re going to go through the effort– and cost– of making a pretty website, it only makes sense to go with an interactive agency capable of making sure your branding won’t get squished into a nasty, broken-looking jumble when someone clicks your search result from their iPad.
3. With the right web developers, you can offer anything in the browser.
Sure, Facebook really started the mobile browsing revolution with their looks-like-an-app interface. Google followed up quickly, and now every major brand wouldn’t be caught dead without a mobile website. It’s not just about translating desktop websites to mobile, though; with the right UI/UX design, your website can be the touch-based hub of your business. And when you want to add a new feature? You can roll it out to your entire user base simultaneously.
Mobile users are still easily impressed by these tricks thanks to long years of badly-designed mobile interfaces; look at Amazon’s excellent mobile website for a great example of how to push your users down the impulse-buy chute.
4. Good web design is a rare thing
And my, oh my is it in demand. Nothing will drive up your bounce rate like a badly designed website; and if you’ve ever been in a room with a bunch of people huddled around an iPad, burbling about how cool a website is, you’ll know the power a well-designed interface can have to drive conversions. Make sure your talent knows how to make a solid website, not just full of bells and whistles, and you’ll be well on your way to a marketable, scalable solution.
5. The bottom line
Your startup can go the dedicated-app route if you particularly like throwing money away, but the future’s in thin clients. Look at Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox endeavors to see the way of the future: Software as a Service.
The economically rational decision is clear: Hire a good web dev team. Save the money you would have spent on dedicated app development teams. Don’t get left behind.