Creating mobile content is unlike generating materials in the PC-only age. Developers have to consider new environments and sets of rules when they craft their offerings to ensure they are compelling and informative on smaller screens. This concept of evolving standards can be frightening for some, but there is plenty of information to learn from already. In a few years, smartphones and tablets have gone from occasional options to powerful content conduits, and individuals have developed preferences and strong opinions about how best to use them. Producers that take these voices into account may have better luck attracting eyes to their offerings, whether their focus is B2B or B2C.
How are mobile devices really used?
Mobile device access raises some questions, because phones and tablets have so many features. When users are free to choose their experience, what do they select? Search Engine Watch recently broke down the results of multiple industry polls on this topic, attempting to see whether mobile Web use or applications are the preferred interaction mode on mobile.
As for the numbers, they were inconclusive, skewing in both directions. The source cited a comScore study on mobile habits, which revealed a huge percentage (88 percent) of online time is spent on apps rather than the Web, but device owners don't see themselves as primarily app-users. Less than one-fifth of surveyed individuals stated their phone or tablet experience is "heavily geared toward apps."
To figure out where preferences really reside, Search Engine Watch pointed out that it's important to isolate different scenarios. When generally quizzed on whether app access or Web browsing is more convenient, respondents come down on both sides of the fence. When divided by intended use of the software, Search Engine Watch explained that searching for content is more popular on the mobile Web and watching short videos is a job for dedicated apps. Other functions were more split, with many voters expressing no preference.
So, what does such a complex split mean for content producers? The studies prove there is no one preferred way to use the mobile Web. Search Engine Watch, offering its advice to companies that want to maximize their content's visibility to the Internet-using public, recommended that firms should have hand in both types of mobile development. This may also be a good practice for businesses hoping to ensure their more explicitly informational content reaches the eyes of ideal consumers at the right time. Capturing the mobile mood may mean working in two separate spaces.
Web apps, native apps, hybrid apps
A recent HTML Goodies piece featuring development advice by industry expert Earl Flormata tackled the question of what types of applications work for today's businesses. Flormata pointed out that there are unique benefits to both native apps that can harness device features and Web app code that works across platforms. This encapsulates the two kinds of mobile use and further incentivizes looking into both approaches. Sometimes, Flormata added, it pays for organizations to not look at mobile Web code and apps as different sides of a fence. Using HTML5, developers can code hybrid apps that are partially native to individual operating systems or app platforms.