What are the Benefits of a Mobile Website for Businesses?

MinTwists’s August meetup debated the benefits to businesses of creating a mobile websites or mobile applications to communicate with their target customer groups in a manner optimised for mobile platforms.

In essence should a dedicated mobile platform be created, or should businesses simply allow their mobile users to be served up their ‘normal’ website in whatever way the browser software on the given mobile platform chooses to do so?

It’s a tough question and one which the group mostly debated from an ROI perspective. Given that mobile usage rates in the UK are still fairly low (5% of a websites traffic may come from mobile users), one might be tempted to conclude that for typical small and medium sized b2b businesses the answer is no.

However, it is not that clear cut.

Firstly, there is the issue that mobile usage is growing incredibly quickly (see article : What will Smart Phones Do to our Websites? for more on this) and there may well be material benefits for ‘getting in quick’ (including SEO benefits).

Secondly there is ‘how mobile users are behaving issue’. The data is not entirely accurate at the moment – but early signs are clear: mobile users do not use the internet in the same way on their mobiles as they would do on their PC’s or laptops.  Usage is driven by factors such as location (users accessing their mobile devices to find information on ‘where they physically are at the moment’) and impulsivness (users accessing their mobile devices to find an answer to a fairly immediate question/problem).  Factors such as these all feed in to the ideal way in which the information should be presented to the mobile user, i.e. b2b businesses could have a ‘mobile optimised homepage’ that clearly presents a clickable telephone number link and clickable interactive google map so that visitors to the business can quickly get the information that they may be after if they are accessing the website from a mobile device.

A difficult topic for business oweners and marketing manager to grapple with; here are MintTwist’s high level thoughts on the subject …

  • Mobile is an important consideration, however, it is not necessarily a vital immediate concern for ‘most’ small businesses (because well designed website designs will render correctly already).
  • The trend towards increased mobile usage is growing.
  • The differing user goals and usage habits of users on mobile platforms needs to be properly understood on a case by case basis for a useful and quality mobile solution to be delivered.
  • The group felt that businesses that should be immediately addressing mobile users (because they could potentially see a real ROI) are:
  1. Businesses with large visitor numbers
  2. Media businesses
  3. Some retail (e-commerce) businesses
  4. Businesses running functional websites / website applications
  • Other groups of businesses may want a mobile solution (even if it won’t provide them a clear ROI) for other reasons (e.g. to get ahead of the competition, brand identity etc).
  • Two main categorisations of mobile website solution exist, these are outlined by the information chart below:
Solution Useful for situations like … Ballpark Costs Useful for businesses like …
Mobile websites (extra pages that are specially built to be auto-delivered to mobile users) Making a ‘normal’ website have a dedicated set of page(s) that will show up (in a manner optimised for small screens) when a user goes to the website on a mobile phone.  Principal Benefit: Increased conversion rates from mobile users. From £3k e-commerce / Retailb2b businesses with very high visitor numbersb2c brands
Mobile Apps and/or Web Apps* (Android, Apple, Web apps that are downloaded) Information that can be delivered in a potentially highly functional and potentially highly interactive way.  Principal Benefit: Increased engagement levels/brand identity. £5k++ Any big brandApplication/Web service vendors

Thoughts and feedback on this post are very welcome 🙂

What will Smart Phones do to our Websites?

What effects will smart phones have on websites in 2012 and beyond?

All the data coming out of the researchers suggests that the trend towards smart phone/tablet usage and away from desktop/laptops is taking hold.  E-Consultancy are reporting that 57% of US professionals say that they will use a smart phone or tablet device as their primary source of internet usage (vs a PC).  They are also predicting a rise in the proportion of online spend that is dedicated to Mobile, today in 2011 it is 15%, in 2015 it is predicted to be 64%.

What does this mean for our warm and snuggly websites?

Maybe not that much.  As is the way with things, they tend to evolve rather than spontaneously transform (albeit at a speedy pace in the digital world).  The same E-Consultancy data appears to show that the focus of mobile spend is around 3 areas – the mobile web, mobile search and social networking.

Some more examination of these phenomena reveals that they are all in fact evolutions and in some cases the same animals as those faithful ‘old’ websites that we know and love so well.

What does this mean for my business?

Mobile Search

Mobile Search

Mobile Web

The vast majority of updated websites will be compatible with Smart Phones, HTML5 based websites are entirely supported.

Moving forward, it is worth considering creating a mobile version of the existing site, this means presenting the content in a way that is ‘mobile friendly’, i.e. short, concise with a focus on contact information.  This need not be an expensive addition to your brief – correctly put together it would be an extension of the existing website system.

Mobile Search

Again, if you are engaging an SEO or Web Marketing agency, Mobile search will be partially covered by the traditional SEO work that is taking place.

Moving forward, if the website system has been designed in a manner in which it supports both platforms as mentioned above, the job of specifically optimising for mobile platforms should be a natural extension to the SEO campaign work and mean only a minor increase in budget.

Social Networking

The Social Networks have been quick to capitalise on the Mobile Web and have extended their systems intelligently to support mobile platforms.  They have designed new front-ends, optimised for the mobile experience that leverage the same application and database systems that power their PC and laptop interfaces.

In order to be successful here, businesses need to engage in a progressive Social Network marketing campaign that is integrated with the SEO (the Social Networks will make the technology work).  By doing this, businesses will be able to leverage their website and SEO plays to improve the outputs of their social endeavours.  It’s all about good old-fashioned strategy and correctly done it results in more potential customers engaging the website via online channels – from the mobile, PC and the of course the real world also 🙂

Web development in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has undergone a profound transformation since 1973, seeing tremendous growth and achieving an incredibly high income per capita.  It is widely recognised as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with industries such as tourism, manufacturing, real estate, financial services and trade playing a major role alongside oil.

With such opportunity and competition it is extremely important for new and existing companies to make effective use of modern marketing strategies.  Internet marketing is now a major multi-billion pound industry and a method suitable for the progressive nature of the UAE business community, particularly for the two major Emirates; Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi.

Web development UAEInternet penetration in the UAE is on the rise as regular web usage has reached 67% of the population, with 55% of the population using it on a daily basis.  Currently, the web is used primarily for emails and searching for information, with a smaller percentage accessing the internet for business or for making online purchases.  The internet is inevitably changing the dynamics of how we structure our business, culture and society, with the UAE being no exception.  As internet penetration in the UAE grows, businesses must respond by developing high quality Arabic website designs.

A modern well-presented website is now expected for most businesses and organisations.  With good quality website design, Dubai and Abu-Dhabi based companies can benefit from improved information distribution and an expansion of reachable markets.  It is an effective way of winning new business and retaining existing customers, while responding quickly to new competitors.

With competition becoming more demanding and search engines more concerned with the user experience, the web business owner should consider the importance of web development.  A UAE company immediately commands respect from web visitors with a professional Arabic web design.  In order to compete amongst the ever-increasing market in the UAE, it is wise to invest in a well-constructed website with a strong logo, a harmonious colour scheme, simple and professional looking graphics, and effective navigation options.  UAE consumers have high expectations from companies, expecting high levels of service from them.

As internet use in the Arabic world has grown faster than anywhere else since 2000 and access costs have shrunk, businesses should now increase investment in web content in order to gain a place in the highly competitive world market.

How to get divorced on Twitter

Have you ever found that you are just growing apart from some of the people you are following on twitter? Maybe you followed them at first because they were popular, powerful, cool or just damn sexy?

When they followed you back you were a rush with emotion. Digital acceptance into their inner circle meant you were connected, accepted and had one very cool ‘follower’, earning your digital self that bit more kudos.

But over the months and years things change. Your digital avatar has grown up, moved on from an adolescent obsession with popularism and found it’s place in the digital world – with like minded individuals from whom they can garnish and share genuinely relevant information.

Get divorced on Twitter

Get divorced on Twitter

That popular connection of yours is still uber cool and successful but somehow their musings just don’t do it for you anymore.

Eventually you decide that clogging up your timeline with randomised, automated ‘quotes of philosophers’, ‘links of the hour’, ‘daily funnies’ and the occasional interaction from a low paid intern feigning coolness is just not worth the kudos…. So you resolve yourself to unfollow your childhood sweetheart!

But how do you do it, how do you get divorced on Twitter!?!?  How will they feel, what will they do and most importantly will their auto-unfollow script kick in, meaning one less follower for you and one very cool one too!?!?

I was faced with exactly this dilemma recently.  Having followed the eminent Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) since the very early days (he was a tweeting pioneer) I had felt a special bond of kinship… I was sure he held me in high regard amongst his 360,000 loyal followers.  I used to wait, tweet-deck at the ready on his every word – but after the years and much to my dismay his tweeting just doesn’t do it for me anymore 😦

And so I give you; ‘How to get divorced on Twitter’ …

Elliott King

elliott_king Elliott King

Sorry @GuyKawasaki – I have to let you go 😦 … it was great while it lasted, I just think we’re in a different space right now.

Guy Kawasaki

@GuyKawasakiGuy Kawasaki
@elliott_king No problem. Have a happy rest of your life.

Elliott King

@elliott_kingElliott King
@GuyKawasaki thanks guy … I won’t forget you.
And that was it – it was done!  No tears, no drawn out discussions, he accepted it, duly un-followed me ( 😦 ) a few hours later and we’ve both gone our separate ways … with no hard feelings … none at all … I’m in a good place right now …
I only hope that somewhere deep down Guy Kawasaki still wants to follow me.

Youth of UAE embraces the world of social media

Facebook recently reached the momentous landmark of having 500 million users. When you consider there are close to 7 billion on planet earth this means that 7% of the world’s population is on Facebook.

In certain countries such as the United States, the UK much of Europe and Japan almost everyone between the age of 15 and 29 has a Facebook account. However in these countries the internet has existed for a several years and young people are now growing up with the technology.

But this does not show the full Facebook picture. There are lots of countries where the internet is a much more recent phenomenon and it is changing the way young people in particular interact and share information.

For example the UAE perhaps does not have the world’s fastest most reliable internet service but the Facebook penetration is very high. It could be argued that because the population is much smaller in comparison to the US and the UK it is not a fair statistic.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the high Facebook penetration shows just how much of an influence the social networking site has. If people have access to the internet, depending on their age and other demographics, they will almost certainly have a Facebook account.

The UAE has become an important region of financial investment and infrastructure growth. It is now home to the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is a city which has emerged from the desert as a leading centre for a wide variety of businesses and industries.

facebook marketingIn Europe and America nearly all businesses now have websites and the standard is always climbing. Businesses are now putting a lot of effort and money into web marketing and SEO because they understand that in such competitive markets and advantage or opportunities must be exploited to the fullest.

The car manufacturing giant, Ford revolutionised personal travel by implementing mass manufacturing to produce the Model T which really opened up the car market to a much wider group of people.

In 2010 Ford again revolutionised the industry by launching its new Explorer model only on Facebook. More and more businesses are looking to social media for marketing opportunities as it offers businesses the chance to interact with customers and to gain valuable insight into products and services.

Middle East Netizens are on the Rise

Web design UAEOver the last couple of decades the Internet has become a huge worldwide phenomenon.  Latest global figures show that the number of internet users (also known as ‘Netizens’) now stands on the verge of exceeding 2 billion!

Of that total a whopping 64 million of them are in the Middle East, accounting for a staggering growth rate of 1825% over the past decade.  Amazingly this growth rate is 15x that of what was seen in North America over the same period.

As more and more people are gaining access to the Internet, it is the perfect opportunity for companies to move their business to the Web.

At the start of the Internet age Europeans and North Americans were by far the largest users. However, this is gradually changing as other continents embrace the World Wide Web. In recent years there has been a big increase in Internet users in regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Since 2000, the number of users in Africa and the Middle East has increased by around 1,800%. Meanwhile, Asia has gathered 704 million users – over 300 million more than any other region, encompassing about 42% of worldwide users. This can be attributed to large population in Asia; a staggering 3.8 billion of the 6.7 billion people on earth (that is 56%) live in Asia.

Another change is that Europe has overtaken North America as the second biggest user of the Internet. In terms of percentage of their population Asia is still quite far behind, with North America having the highest figure. Only 18.5% of Asians use the Internet, while half of Europeans do and three quarters of North Americans do. In the Middle East, 30% of people use the Internet today, however, this reach is rapidly increasing and as it does the importance of businesses being well presented online becomes ever more apparent.

Computers and the Internet are modern inventions which therefore effortlessly fit into modern life of Europeans and North Americans. Many Africans and Middle Easterners have very different lifestyles and this is reflected in the figures. Asia is a mixture of old and new, but modernising all the time, thus the increase in Internet users. As developing nations like Asia, Africa, and the Middle become more technologically advanced this trend is likely to continue.

Businesses and organizations in the Middle East that want to capitalize on everything the Internet has to offer should look no further than the web design and development firm, MintTwist. Originally based out of London, MintTwist has successfully created websites and marketing strategies for a wide variety of companies over the past eleven years. They are now entering into the foreign marketplace with the opening of Mint Twist Dubai. The growth of business and Internet seen within Dubai and the Middle East could not be better supported and facilitated than by the experts at Mint Twist.

Website Planning that Pays

Before embarking on re-designing and re-building your marketing website it may well pay to do a little ‘website planning’ first. Assuming that the primary purpose of your business website is to market the products and services of your business to potential and existing customers there are two main questions that you will need to be clear on before proceeding.


1. What do you want your Website to say?

Normally, you will want your business website to clearly spell out the main benefits of your products and/or services. Ideally this will be done in a language and style that will engage the types of customer groups that your business serves.


2. Who do you want your Website to say it to?

The marketing website is for your customers. What types of people are they? Can your customer base be categorised into distinct groups? Are your customer groups buying the same or different prducts and services? Do they buy for the same or different reasons?

customer groups

Identify target customer groups and associated products and services


What do we do next?

Well, there is still more planning work to do. Beyond these two questions there are further steps in a website planning process (see the article ‘Planning the Perfect Website‘, by MintTwist, for further detail on this subject), however the process becomes far easier and the end result will be far more effective with clarity on what we want to say and who we want to say it to.


How does planning help design?

A website homepage will push the core messages in a design that will enage our core customer groups. However it’s most important function is to quickly and clearly direct the website visitor (potential customer) to the product or service page that is most relevant for them.

By breaking down the products and services by customer group and at the same time having a good understanding of the benefits that are most relevant to each group we will be able to design product and service pages that will enable us to focus our communication towards the needs of our potential customer, increase engagement and ultimately increase sales leads and revenue.