Mobile (Yes), Website (Probably)

A few days ago, we retweeted an link to an interesting article:

RT @SeattleMing: No Mobile Website? You’re Probably Turning Customers Away #mobile #smb #business

The article basically relates the fact that for those doing commerce, sales, marketing, or any other kind of engagement activity that a mobile website is at the very least what you need. Now, this is a point that we’ve said before – even going as far to recommend that you might want to reconsider your efforts towards making a mobile application until you have finished that initial effort of making a mobile website. But, after reading this article, and considering exactly what contexts people find themselves in, I’m ready to make the statement that you (individual, organization, community) does need to be mobile, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need a website.

[I hear the thinking happening now. First he goes on and on in the beginning of the year talking about not making a mobile app the center of your mobile strategy, and then there’s this push for SMS and mobile website considerations. Now, he’s saying that a mobile website probably isn’t needed? Uh… I thought MMM was the one who had their minds wrapped on straight?]

The ideology behind Instagram is very intriguing, and very much factors into this. The other part of things again speaks to that aspect of being in a context where you might have a mobile device in hand, but you might not necessarily be mobile. With Instagram, you have a community of people, who essentially snap images, add filters (because their cameras don’t really take awesome pics to begin with is my opinion here), and then post them thru and app to people who follow them. Officially, there is no central website. All of the interaction for Instagram happens in the app, and if you aren’t in the app, you might see fleeting pieces of the experience when those photos in the app are also shared on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).

Its mobile, but not exactly the base of a mobile website. Yes, there is data connectivity being used, but that’s happening through APIs that work with the camera hardware through a simplified application. The application is probably not even as necessary, as something like Instagram could just as easily supported email or MMS for receiving the photos and encouraged (smartphone owners) to use the default or a recommended 3rd party app to do things like filters and such. You’d not have the following aspect, but you would be utilizing the network of folks whom are already in your phone book. Yet think about it, none of this is happening in a way that is different from how your faith community is already connecting with one another.

Your mobile device has a camera, speaker, microphone, ability to record audio and video, compose messages in a memo or in a text/email app, receive/make voice calls, send/receive DMTF codes… whew. You get the drift. And if you are like me, your mobile probably does a bit more like has HDMI or composite video output, an FM radio receiver and transmitter, has a memory card slot, can attach to USB accessories like portable hard drives, memory keys, has the ability to receive files via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or can send to a media center device the multimedia content on it (DLNA, AirPlay, etc.). There is a lot happening within that little device, and you have to constantly not just consider what it is that people think is the default of what they want to do, but also consider that there are many other screens pulling on their attention spans and that if you want to be noticed, then your approach has to be distinct.

Mobile is a lot more than downloading an app that asks you for some measure of personal information. Its more than being restricted to a web browser or a programming language. Mobile is about capturing at the right moment the context and communicating that to someone on the other end of the collection of cell towers between you and them. Discover that and you find the magic bean that is what mobile can grown/build/encourage for you. Don’t restrict your mobile efforts to an app, website, or SMS. Look at the device and go further. And then when you do, be prepared to be surprised by what people will do with the tech when you show them a little bit more than simply tapping a keypad or pinch-zooming on a screen.