There’s a short but eminently clear and to-the-point article on – of all places – the State of Indiana local government homepage about mobile websites. In the “Tourism Tech Corner” of the site, Jeremy Williams not only does a superb job of explaining why a mobile website is becoming vital for any hospitality-related business, but also drives home the fact that it’s becoming morevital with every passing month, since use of smart phones for Internet browsing is growing at a tremendous rate.
Some of the points he makes (albeit from an American perspective) are similar to those that theBandBer has been banging on about for more than a year now: “In the five short years since 2007, smartphones have become a ubiquitous fixture. Since it’s not 2007 anymore, you can no longer ignore the fact that more people have smartphones than feature phones (basically any phone that isn’t an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Android) and they’re using those smartphones to browse the internet. […] While modern smartphones can render full websites (with the exception of Flash for iPhones), mobile users expect a site that loads quickly, is easily navigable (without pinch-zooming) and contains plenty of functions and sections that are pertinent to mobile users.”
However, he also has some things to say that are genuinely fresh and insightful…
For example, he strongly advises investing in a mobile website rather than a mobile app: “Rather than spending your time or limited budget on even just Android and iOS (i.e. iPhone) apps, putting those same resources behind a single mobile website will be a much better investment. Since Android and iOS apps are built using different programming languages, it’s not as simple as just submitting the same app to both app stores. A mobile website also gives you the flexibility that it will display on ANY mobile device, so if your visitors have Blackberrys or Windows Mobile phones, your website will be just a usable to them as it would be to a visitor using an Android or an iPhone.”
From a usability perspective, he also counsels that a “What’s Nearby” button can show its value by allowing you to become your guests’ de facto tour guide when they’re staying with you and exploring the surrounding area. If they decide to come back in the future, you’ll have a stronger relationship with them and might, therefore, be more likely to get a repeat booking.
All this can sound a bit abstract when described in general terms, but the article also boasts some great screenshots from U.S. tourism sites that illustrate its arguments in a clear, informative way. Well worth a read…
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