Making Your Blog A Mobile Experience

“I’ve been on about the mobile web like a ranting rhino”

Scobes is calling sites out in 2006 who aren’t enabled for mobile phone access and Steve Rubel over on MicroPersuasion has said the mobile web will become more mainstream in 2006 and offers bloggers a couple of tips. I’ve been on about the mobile web like a ranting rhino for a while now too but admittedly haven’t had the resources to put into it yet.

I’m not totally sold that users will be lining up to read my rants on the big screen - although nothing would really surprise me. But I do see there is a growing need for useful applications and sites that give users the ability to do really cool and useful stuff via the web browser on their mobile phone. Want movie tickets, need a special bottle of wine, or have a hankering to check your membership details with the local gym? Hey what’s more convenient than that [other] tool in your pocket? The one that’s sending you sterile.

Web development businesses should be looking at this as something that can differentiate them in the marketplace. I’d almost say at this point its a must as the click and go generation are hitting jobs right around when mobile web capabilities on current phones are coming into mainstream.

I can’t think of a platform that is more conveniently with more people on the planet wherever they go. Can you?

Here’s an idea which may well have been done but hasn’t been here. Create a mobile service where the user can simply enter some simple details into their phone and retrieve pricing comparisons and availability of goods in the shops of the Hobart Central Business District. Just as an example. Have all of the businesses, the larger ones especially, in on the show so that its just a service they pay a minimal fee for on each related transaction (somehow). You get the idea anyway. When I go to town looking for a handbag for my partner it would save me time to know where something specific is available and comparatively how much its priced. The walk through five shops in real time to compare a ten dollar difference doesn’t really work for me at the moment. Not if there’s a more convenient alternative. How many times do you wonder if a store stocks such and such only to go there and be disappointed. What about sale items in major department stores? It would be nice to know whether they’ve sold out of those big ticket items from the catalogue already.

OK you mightn’t think that’s so useful and you may have your own ideas. But what I’m looking for isn’t just to save money - I want to save time. If I spend the entire morning looking for a cheap pair of runners then they don’t look so cheap anymore. The hardest part about my example is getting the retail businesses to co-operate but there’s going to be a bigger audience asking for that kind of thing in the future.

Think about it. What would you really like to be able to do with that mobile phone in your pocket if you really had the chance to make it more useful? You just might be a millionaire in no time so don’t underestimate the mobile web.

Likewise many businesses are now blogs and blogs are businesses. Blogs should be looking to be mobile enabled too. And if I were a business looking to get my site up in the here and now with an eye for the next few years ahead I’d be demanding that it was web enabled. Make it easier for people to give you money I say. Make it more convenient to tune into your message.

Update: 3/1/05
Scobes has a bit more on to say on sites and mobile platforms and he’s pointed at the navigation last to make mobile browsing faster. I can see the point. Whether or not I then want to affect the expectations of inexperienced screenreader users who may be disoriented by content first - well I’ll have to rethink the options I guess. Its going to be hard to please everyone there, for the time being anyway.

4 Responses to “Making Your Blog A Mobile Experience”

  1. Matt Robin Says:

    (in a small voice) …..but the screens are so damn tiny - y’can’t see much more than standard text anyway!

    I think Scobes isn’t quite right: YES - plenty of people (millions even) now have mobile phones/cell phones….but how many of those users are going to be browsing the web?
    Especially as browsing on mobile phones networks - using mobile phone lines - is charged so much by the phone companies!

    Internet browsing on a PC/Mac is quite affordable these days…but browsing the web from a mobile phone only makes any sense if the price comes down dramatically.

    (thinks)…okay….prices vary between the U.S. - the UK, and Tasmania………but the same problem still applies.

    I’d love to see a great update in mobile phone Web browsing during 2006….but until major price changes and bigger screen displays come in to effect - then it’s just not going to happen…..and Scobes is barking up the wrong tree (maybe he meant 2007 and not 2006?!)

    ….I think he was just ecstatically happy with his new phone and temporarily lost the plot! :D

  2. Matt Robin Says:

    “I’d love to see a great update in mobile phone Web browsing during 2006….”

    I did put this didn’t I? And - I do mean it: the benefits of mobile web browsing and it’s potential are great and I really want it to succeed in a big way.
    You outlined some great points in your article that support it too…

    I just hope screen sizes and huge browsing costs make it a reality (and sooner rather than later).

  3. nortypig Says:

    Hi Matt
    Ha ha. I’ve looked at a couple of sites on Opera Mobile and they came over pretty well. I’d just not want Nintendo fingers from scrolling endlessly. I guess I’m not one to surf if its difficult. Screen sizes shouldn’t be that much of a barrier with semantic code though one would think. Obviously you’d want to deliver a handheld stylesheet or deal with it serverside so you delivered a cut down content to the mobile users. I think it will be a real challenge meeting the needs of this user group and a whole new field of usability and so forth will come into play.

    I think mobile technology will be adopted pretty well though as long as ‘killer applications’ come out to make someone want to use their mobile for that. The big question is finding out what people would want to do with a mobile, after all its conveniently on us all the time. I confuse mine with a home detention armband lol.

    But I guess I can see some like Scobes and Steve reading blogs on them because they’re hardcore, we’re probably looking like you say a few years down the track before its more convenient for us. Bandwidth costs are an issue definately but I’d guess that click and go kids who’ve been blowing their mobile budgets since grade 5 and now are getting work probably won’t much care about the bills so much. I’d discount a lot of older users and people slower to change at this point naturally.

    But for now anything where you could book, rent or buy stuff via your mobile would be awesome. I’d use it. Even if it was a little costly I’d enjoy the convenience of reserving a car space or booking restaurant tickets directly via my mobile. For instance you’d like a certain shiraz, hey enter the name into the mobile and voila the outlets in your city who stock it are in front of you. I think there’s incredible potential.

    yeh the same problem applies regardless of the global context, true. In fact you could probably very easily roll out your killer app into new markets.

    I think though the biggest thing is that web enabled mobile phones are coming out as the norm now too. That will drive the ability to be able to do this stuff into mainstream. Its our job as developers create the killer app that makes the want to do that stuff. And we should probably be somehow pressuring mobile phone vendors as an industry about getting opera mobile or other suitable browsers enabled by default on these things. If it isnt’ being done already.

    The biggest prohibitive factor though like you say is in the bandwidth costs Matt. I wonder why mobile bandwidth is so expensive? Is it a monopoly thing or does it take massive infrastructure? Maybe someone cruising by here can fill us in on that one.

    K thanks for dropping in mate. I can’t say I’ve ever run into you so exuberant. It will be an exciting couple of years ahead of us in this area I expect.

  4. nortypig Says:

    I guess a lot of these things are being done on the web right now, practically everything. The exciting thing about the mobile is that massive amounts of people carry the platform off to work every day. And people who don’t even have a computer are familiar with their mobile.

    The trick will be to create things that people want and make them usable and accessible.

    I think a big part of what Scobes is saying is that sites, all sites not only blogs, should be delivering to that platform now as a matter of course too. If someone’s building a site for a client that is forecast to stay there for 2 to 3 years I’d expect some attention should be made by the developer to gauge whether the content should be delivered to mobiles to some degree. Of course clients budgets have to handle that one lol… could be a sticky point.

    The service industry would do well with these kinds of sites too. K really gotta run now. Cheers matt.