Jumping On The Mobile Bandwagon?

Joe Wallace freelance social media.jpgby Joe Wallace

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Dave Allen of North in Portland, an agency that specializes in brand engagement across the spectrum of traditional and digital media.

One of the highlights of the conversation was a discussion of companies who come looking for help with their image campaigns. “What’s your website about?” these hopefuls are asked. “Well, we’re like BIG ESTABLISHED SERVICE NAME”.

So what are you offering that Big Established Service is getting wrong? “Um, well, nothing. We’re just like Big Established Service Name. Except it’s US.”

By now you’re getting the picture. Why reinvent the wheel? It’s one thing to offer a different-tasting cheeseburger. It’s another to offer the same widget with only a different picture where the logo goes.

Dave Allen also, by way of his blog at North.com, turned me on to this Ad Age article which has some revealing insight about bandwagon jumping in the world of mobile Internet. Read the intro to the article, where Ad Age writer Simon Dumenco says,

“A competitor’s mobile app, you find out, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in just a few days. Impressive, right? Maybe, maybe not. Boston-based mobile analytics firm Localytics just released a study that shows a discouraging trend toward instant app abandonment among users who are clearly being bombarded with more apps than they have the time or inclination to actually use.”

Here’s the dilemma some professional bloggers, authors, musicians and others face. Mobile is HUGE. The mobile marketplace is a force to be reckoned with, and mobile browsing is getting dangerously close to replacing laptop browsing–at least in terms of who is top of the heap in that respect.

So should you pay some money to have a mobile version of your product, service, website, widget or whatsit?

The answer might be “yes” if you can answer the right questions. How is your audience or customer better served by having a mobile application version of your great whatsit? What can you do BETTER with a mobile application that you can’t do with your website? Or should be doing?

Will your app get downloaded once, then abandoned? Why not? Tough questions to ask, but the answers might save you some development money.

Freelancers don’t tend to think about mobile apps and such when creating their resume pages. But freelancers who have products to sell DO think about it. At least a certain percentage of them do. The question to ask is how mobile makes your user experience better.

For those of sitting and shrugging about mobile, I would definitely encourage you to ask yourself one simple question—how does your site look on the screen of an iPhone? I don’t ask this to be deliberately contrary based on what I just wrote. I ask because so many people in the freelance space are still toiling away on sites that have a definite 90s web vibe in presentation and performance.

Your audience might be trying to connect with you on those little cell phone screens. Can they read your work?