How to fail at mobile web

Does this sound familiar?

  1. Build an iPhone and Android app first.
  2. Realise that there are other platforms out there.
  3. Build a mobile website (aka “HTML5 app”) for the other platforms. Aim to make the mobile web site behave the just like the iPhone and Android app, “only in HTML5”.
  4. Be disappointed when the mobile web site runs like crap on a Nokia, and doesn’t render at all on a Blackberry 5.
  5. Starve the mobile website of resources and attention in favour of the shiny native apps that give good demo.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Don’t consider the mobile web as just something to “fill in the gaps.” iPhone owners use the web, too. Research shows that page load times matter. If an iPhone user clicks a link to your site, what do you think will make them happier?

  • 3 seconds to load a nicely mobile-optimized web page, with fewer bells and whistles, but with clear calls to action and a “buy” button
  • 3 minutes to hit the app store, download, install, and launch your app

Sometimes you don’t want to create a new account with a web store just to make a simple purchase. Sometimes you don’t want to download an app just to interact with a service. The mobile web is different. Play to its strengths, not its weaknesses.


One Reply to “How to fail at mobile web”

  1. Not to mention throwing up an interstitial screen prompting the user to go to the app store, and forcing them to accept or decline the offer of downloading the app before getting to where they want to go in the first place.

    Put a link to the app at the top of your page (or bottom, whatever), but users should never be diverted from the reason they came to the site!

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