Mobile: a perfect storm


I’m in the process of redesigning my site and yes; I have been for several months. I’ve been rebranded myself as of 4 months ago; focusing on social media, mobile marketing and the impact on consumer goods. The redesign is a difficult process and it would be much smarter to just pick an existing template . . . but . . . you know how that whole wisdom thing goes. Anyway, I’m in the midst and have been talking to people lately about why  mobile is finally happening in the US after 10 years of threats. There are three reasons that mobile is happening now and it’s a great time to be in the mobile space. (It happened in it’s ancient WAP form years ago in Japan and Europe.)

Smartphones – Apple has shown (again) that design rules. The intuitive multi-touch screen and usable interface of the iPhone has increased adoption of the smartphone (once considered a soon to be maturing market) and pushed the Touchweb to the forefront of the consumers’ minds.

Social Media – There’s this little online community called Facebook that has over 400 million subscribers and this other site called Twitter that has +100 million subscribers. Collectively they’ve created the largest walled garden on the Internet you could imagine. The level of adoption and the the explosion in the smartphone market has brought social media to the mobile device. 100 million users access Facebook via the mobile device. (Twitter didn’t talk about mobile numbers that I know of at Chirp this past week.) The mobile phone is a personal device; an extension of yourself so social media is natural.

Geo-location awareness – GPS is now the norm in smartphones and other location determination methods such as Cell ID and WiFi positioning are making it possible for businesses to know where you are. (Yes. This is a good thing. Remember, we’re in a post email era which means opt-in has been branded into the brains of all marketers. With mobile offerings you’ll also have the ability to “turn it off for now”.) Also, sites like Brighkite and Foursquare allow you to keep tabs on your friends whereabouts.

As you can see this perfect storm is made up of three elements that build upon one another. It’s also why people like Eric Schmidt are proclaiming mobile is the future of online. That means, your mobile site better be in order and that means something very different from a terrestrials site. Are you a brick and mortar business? Have you partnered with Foursquare? Are you ready for location based marketing? What does mobile enabled customers mean for your business model?

With this in mind I started to think of my redesign in a different light. I’m creating my mobile site first, complete with mobile only functionality and then going to build out my site based on that. The first thing I’m addressing is usability, which I know businesses don’t do very well. They design it like a stripped down version of the site. One in which I need both hands to really get around. Navigation at the top? Why? So I have to stretch my hands all the way across the screen or use my other hand? What if I’m left handed? I’ll post the clickable wireframes when they’re ready to get some feedback.