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Build mobile web_site

  1. 1. Making Leaders Successful Every Day June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site by Julie A. Ask for Consumer Product Strategy Professionals
  2. 2. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester®, Technographics®, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. To purchase reprints of this document, please email For additional information, go to For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals Executive Summary The browser-based mobile Web experience is more important than ever, with dramatic growth in the usage of the mobile Internet — especially from smartphones — in the past 24 months. In 2009, consumer brands built iPhone applications; they are now asking what’s next. The answer for many is to improve the quality of their mobile Web site. The first step is developing a business strategy to guide a vendor requirements document. Working through the mobile POST process forces brands to answer strategic questions before making technology decisions and thinking about vendors. This will be an iterative process, as requirements are right-sized to budgets. Once in place, consumer brands can select one of five approaches to building or improving their mobile Web presence: outsourcing to a managed service provider; licensing a mobile platform; leveraging existing partners, such as eCommerce platforms; working with an agency; and building with in-house resources. table of Contents Five Choices For Building A Mobile Web Site Strategic Decisions Must Drive Mobile Vendor Decisions recommendations Decisions Should Flow From Your Business Strategy, Not Vendor Offerings Supplemental Material NOTES & RESOURCES Forrester interviewed 2ergo, Digby, dload, iconmobile, Kony Solutions, Little Springs Design, Mobiqa, Netbiscuits, Razorfish, Sapient, The Hyperfactory, Usablenet, and VML. Related Research Documents “Case Study: Steve Madden Invests In Mobile Fundamentals” June 22, 2010 “The POST Method: A Systematic Approach To Mobile Strategy” April 9, 2009 June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site Choosing An Approach To Meet Your Objectives Cost-Effectively by Julie A. Ask with J.P. Gownder, Vidya Drego, Brian Walker, Seth Fowler, and Laura Wiramihardja 2 6 9 10
  3. 3. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedJune 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 2 Five Choices for building a mobile web site Mobile data isn’t just about apps: The mobile browser-based Web is more important than ever. Increasing adoption of smartphones with desktop-quality browsers, more advanced browsers on nonsmartphone devices, and the broad availability of high-speed wireless networks has created a high-quality mobile Internet experience that consumers like and will use.1 After languishing at just 3% to 4% for years, daily mobile Internet usage among US adult cell phone users grew from 7% at the end of 2008 to 10% in mid-2009 and to 15% in mid-2010.2 Consumer brands looking to build a mobile Web site must choose among the five types of solutions available to them (see Figure 1). They will narrow down their choices based on their budgets as well as the type of Web experience that they want to deliver. There are pros and cons associated with each approach (see Figure 2). Some of the companies that build mobile Web sites do not fit cleanly into one category, but we placed them where they fit best.3 The five solutions are: · Fully managed services. Fully managed services give companies the opportunity to outsource their mobile Web development, hosting, and maintenance completely. Buyers who say that they have no internal bandwidth typically choose this type of solution. Fully managed services vendors primarily offer transcoding or content optimization services — they take existing Web content and logic and translate it into defined wireframes and formats that fit a small screen size. They offer device detection, content hosting, and content optimization. This type of solution was especially popular before smartphones, with their more advanced browsers, gained such a foothold in the US market. Vendors charge ongoing service fees, with some upfront professional service fees for the initial setup. Buyers benefit from the turnkey nature of the solution. · Licensed technology platforms. These platforms, also known as mobile enablement solutions, are gaining substantial traction in the US. The business model involves licensing a technology platform that offers device detection, content hosting, and content optimization. They offer some analytics and integrate with Web analytics companies like Omniture and mobile ad networks like AdMob and Millennial Media. In addition, they have Web-based development tools that minimize the need for more technical development or coding expertise. Companies can license these platforms and build their mobile Web sites in-house; agencies can also license these platforms on behalf of clients. Vendors have traditionally charged licensing fees but may also include a higher mix of professional services fees if they build at least the initial Web site. The benefits here come from the advantages of scale and the ability to easily customize your Web site. · Existing solutions providers. Existing solutions providers — such as eCommerce platforms, customer service solutions, and email service providers — either license mobile capabilities from a third party and incorporate them into their solution or add elements of mobile to existing solutions. Venda, for example, recently partnered with Digby to offer mobile to its
  4. 4. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 3 existing base of more than 200 customers. RightNow Technologies is helping its clients format content — FAQs and chat dialogues — for mobile devices. This is a small element of a much larger infrastructure for many companies, but it helps mobilize content and functionality from existing Web sites. Buyers benefit from tight integration when choosing these vendors. · Agencies. Agencies offer end-to-end mobile Web site development, beginning with mobile strategy in some cases and continuing on to concept creation, design, development, user interface and site quality assessments, and maintenance. Buyers can choose between traditional and mobile-focused agencies.4 Anything is possible with agencies. They will work with managed service providers; license platforms on behalf of their clients or use an in-house version; or build from a client’s existing infrastructure. Buyers receive potentially excellent experiences but at a premium. · In-house builds. Companies that build in-house may leverage all or just a part of the approaches listed above, except for fully managed services. They may license a mobile platform and use those tools to build their own site. They may hire an agency for user interface design and then bring the build in-house. Companies that decide to build some or all of their mobile Web site in-house do so for a couple of reasons. Some decide that “mobile competence” in its broadest definition is of strategic importance, and they want that expertise to be exclusive and on call. Hiring mobile expertise is difficult because it is scarce — companies building in- house are developing their own. They view paying contractors as paying someone else to learn. Relatively few companies we’ve surveyed are doing their own device detection, which can be characterized as time-consuming but straightforward. In-house builds offer the most control for those that can afford this approach.
  5. 5. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedJune 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 4 Figure 1 The Five Categories Of Mobile Web Providers Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 Fully managed services An outsourced approach offers Web site transcoding services and/or other services that simplify or automate the creation of a mobileWeb experience. Licensed technology platform This is primarily a technology or development platform with Web-based tools for simple mobile Web construction. Existing solutions provider Existing eCommerce vendors or other solution providers build capabilities and partner with a mobile platform to extend their services. Agency Full-service agencies offer design, development, build, quality testing, and maintenance. In-house build Built in-house either entirely or in part. May leverage agencies or other vendors for portions of the solution and experience. Most mobile Web providers fall into one of five categories1-1 Each approach offers many vendor options1-2 Fully managed services Licensed technology platform Existing solutions provider Agency In-house build
  6. 6. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 5 Figure 2 There Are Pros And Cons Associated With Each Approach Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 Managed services Licensed platform Existing vendor Agency In-house Pros • Covers all devices, including the long tail and new devices as added • Relatively low total cost of ownership • Quick implementation • Low impact on internal IT department • Mobile expertise • Optimizes content for all devices, including long tail • Optimizes media for small screen • Web-based design tools minimize technical expertise requirements • Offers potential for user inteface customization by combining with an agency or professional services • Offers ultimate flexibility and control along with tight and streamlined integration into existing and planned infrastructure • Cost control in fixed salaries, outsourcing to emerging markets • Develops in-house mobile expertise — viewed as a competitive advantage by some • Offers platform for differentiation Cons • Mostly a subset of desktop experience • Less ability to leverage unique device features • More standard and text-based, vertical user interfaces • Usability and QA testing limited • Tying experience to any third-party platform limits pace of innovation to third party • Use of common platform makes differentiation more difficult • Proprietary markup languages • Lacks mobile expertise and may be ultimately partnering or outsourcing (e.g., Venda with Digby) • Little experience — few projects versus a few hundred — unless it leverages a partner’s experience • Potential to be highest-cost alternative, depending on scope • Less mobile experience unless a dedicated mobile agency • Creates dependency on third party for changes, maintenance, and additions • Historically, innovation originates in small, nimble companies • Not lowest cost • Expertise hard to hire — often must be developed internally • Decision-making subject to internal financial planning and organizational issues rather than simple purchase order Typical project length Four to eight weeks Eight to 12 weeks Driven by approach used by partner and scope of project Weeks to several months Ongoing, full-time initiatives • Offers deep integration with existing Web infrastructure and business solutions • Knows client organizations, processes, and personnel well, given they are existing partners • Removes anxiety of“we need to get something done” • Allows elements of content or services to be mobilized • Differentiates on quality of experience, especially on more sophisticated devices • Marketing capabilities • Full services from strategy to development to robust QA testing • Integrates with existing business solutions and Web infrastructure
  7. 7. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedJune 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 6 Strategic decisions Must drive mobile vendor decisions Companies need a mobile strategy before they can begin to choose an approach to mobile Web design. Too many companies are drawn into buying what a vendor is selling before they have a mobile strategy in place. Forrester recommends that companies use its POST process to develop a mobile strategy methodically.5 A number of strategic decisions must be made as part of the “S” (strategy) or tactical planning portion of the process that will eventually guide the selection of a vendor approach (see Figure 3). One of the outcomes of the POST methodology should be a vendor requirements document that is based on a company’s needs, rather than what is possible. Getting to this point will require an iterative process in which companies must come to a set of aligned strategic decisions on each of several dimensions (see Figure 4). These include: · Reach. The key question here is, “Should we have a tiered approach with experiences customized to more sophisticated mobile phones or should we opt for a one-size-fits-all approach?” Nearly one-quarter of US cell phone owners have a smartphone, but about half of all mobile Web traffic is on smartphones.6 With their touchscreens, HTML5, and accelerometers, smartphones offer the opportunity to create user experiences that take advantage of unique handset features. · Offering. Mobile is not simply about shrinking the desktop experience to a smaller screen or removing rich media to create a text-based site easily navigated via a 12-digit key pad. The purpose and resulting complexity of the site can vary greatly. At the lowest level of complexity, mobile Web sites may simply be landing pages that support a mobile ad campaign. At the other end of the spectrum are mobile commerce sites, which have deep integration into existing commerce platforms, product catalogs, customer databases, content management systems, and customer service solutions that operate in multiple regions and languages around the world.7 Mobile phones also offer unique features, such as cameras, user location, and accelerometers; more advanced browsers with HTML5 can increasingly leverage these to create more contextual and enhanced experiences. The more complex the offering, the higher the cost of the build (see Figure 5). · Investment. Many factors come into play when determining a budget for building a mobile Web site. The desired site features, selected approach, organization, and mobile-readiness and compatibility of existing infrastructure will have an impact on costs (see Figure 6).8 Timing requirements and the availability of internal resources will also drive budget needs and affect the choice of approach. If the needs requirements driven by your reach and offering decisions don’t fit within available funding constraints, you must revisit them as part of an iterative process until you reach a set of aligned decisions. · Value chain. Each company must decide how important mobile expertise is. One of the top reasons that companies give for spending on mobile marketing applications is learning. Mobile expertise is hard to hire even in 2010, as the number of open job postings shows. In-house expertise provides more control over innovation and costs in the long term.
  8. 8. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 7 Figure 3 Strategic Decisions Must Drive Mobile Vendor Decisions Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 People Review the Mobile Technographics® Profile of your target audience. Objectives Decide on your goals. Strategy Determine your approach to meet your objectives. Technology Choose the technologies that will enable you to implement your strategy. Mobile strategy development process Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 Reach Value chain Offering Investment • What do we want to mobilize? • Level of integration? • Use of unique device features? • Geographies? Languages? • What percentage of our audience do we want to reach? • Should we have a two-tiered approach that customizes the experience for more sophisticated mobile devices? • Do we need a vendor that can provide applications in addition to mobile Web sites? • Is mobile expertise a core competency that we need? • How important is mobile versus company or industry expertise? • How much can we afford to spend? How much do we need to spend? • How much internal bandwidth do we have? • What is our timing outlook? Offering/ experience Cost Figure 4 Strategic Planning Will Be An Iterative Process Until You Find The Right Balance
  9. 9. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedJune 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 8 Figure 5 Site Complexity Further Narrows Your Vendor Options Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 Simple campaign landing pages as part of mobile marketing campaign project Simple site builds at smaller agencies Marketing applications or other simple sites with few unique experiences Back-end integration as well as use of device features Complex sites with custom UIs leveraging many unique handset features, deep integration into background, and complex Web-level services Some free tools available for simple projects Typical sites Complex sites with substantial traffic Possible, but not typical Simple sites with minimal professional services Simple- to medium- complexity sites with upfront setup features Complex sites; includes setup plus ongoing hosting/ maintenance Possible, but not typical $10K–$35K $35K–$75K $100K–$200K $200K–$500K $500K–$1M $1M–$3M Agency Licensed platform Managed platform service Choices will be limited by budget and site features5-1 Sitecomplexity Internalresourcesrequired $10K–$35K $35K–$75K $100K–$200K $200K–$500K $500K–$1M $1M–$3M Managed services Platform Agency High Typical Simple Once you’ve made these strategic decisions, vendor selection will be easier5-2
  10. 10. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 9 Figure 6 Your Strategy Will Affect The Amount You Need To Spend Source: Forrester Research, Inc.57134 Element Cost drivers Site features Approach Organization Infrastructure • Quality of user interface • Geography and languages supported • Media, content, and services on site • Use of unique device features • Vendor approach • Tiered versus single-solution approach • Level of mobile readiness — is there a strategy in place? • Mobile IQ of organization • Clear and well-understood leadership • Mobile readiness of content (e.g., media) • Customer databases • Product information (e.g., inventory, catalogs) • Existing eCommerce platform • Analytics solutions • Content management systems • Etc. Rec o mme n d at i o n s Decisions should flow from your business strategy, not vendor offerings Too many companies base their mobile Web requirements on vendor offerings rather than their unique business needs and resulting mobile strategies. Design approaches are available across a range of budgets and timing needs, as well as the availability of internal expertise. In general, there is no single best approach — there is only the best approach for you. Once you have selected an approach and are evaluating vendors, be sure to: · Navigate between single-source and best-of-breed solutions. All vendors offer more than Web site services. Each vendor interviewed for this report had the ability to design, develop, and distribute mobile applications, and most offered mobile marketing services ranging from platform services to campaign development and implementation. Their approaches to building applications paralleled that of mobile Web sites. Managed services and platforms will optimize basic content for any device, while agencies focus on custom development for smartphones as well as creating solutions for the long tail of devices. Choosing a single vendor for all of your mobile Internet needs will make efficient use of your resources by simplifying the sourcing and development processes. However, you may need to compromise by forgoing best-of-breed development on any one platform.
  11. 11. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedJune 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 10 · Understand that the available offerings remain immature. No vendor offers company, industry, and mobile expertise. Those vendors with mobile expertise have likely worked across many industries, but they will not know your company or existing infrastructure and processes well. Your existing partners — whether an agency or an eCommerce platform — will know your company well but will typically have less mobile expertise. Building mobile services will require patience and working with your partner to fill in the knowledge gaps. Even building in-house means developing expertise — and that takes time. · Make a conscious choice between innovation and risk. The most innovative mobile vendors may be smaller than your traditional agency or eCommerce platform partners. Along with that smaller size comes a degree of risk — working with low-scale suppliers can create uncertainty about your project. Information on smaller suppliers’financial stability or performance is not available in public documents. Credibility and experience will be found in your trust of a few key individuals as well as in their portfolio of work. If your goal is innovation and deep mobile expertise, you may find it in your larger, well-known partners, but be prepared to work with smaller, lesser-known entities that will grow and mature in their experiences with you. Supplemental MATERIAL Companies Interviewed For This Document 2ergo Digby dload iconmobile Kony Solutions Little Springs Design Mobiqa Netbiscuits Razorfish Sapient The Hyperfactory Usablenet VML Endnotes 1 Adoption of smartphones by US mobile phone owners grew from 11% at the end of 2008 to 17% at the end of 2009. See the January 14, 2010, “2009: The Year Of High-End Phones” report. 2 In six months, between year-end 2008 and mid-year 2009, daily use of the mobile Web went from 7% to 10%. The year before, year-end 2007 to year-end 2008, saw daily use grow from 4% to 7%. That is to say, in six months the frequency of use of the mobile Web jumped more than the 12 months previous. Recent advances in handsets, networks, and offerings have rapidly accelerated the frequency with which cell phone users access the Web. This data is taken from a forthcoming Forrester report, “Making The Case For The Mobile Internet.”
  12. 12. © 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited June 29, 2010 How To Build A Mobile Web Site For Consumer Product Strategy Professionals 11 3 Managed service providers and technology platforms also offer professional services. Agencies are licensing third-party platforms to build mobile Web sites for their clients. Some agency projects entail user interface (UI) design while the development work goes in-house. Some agencies have developed their own platforms. Moreover, everyone’s business mix is evolving. More than one platform provider, for example, revealed that they now derive the majority of their revenues from professional service fees, not licensing fees. 4 Agencies fall into two categories — traditional and those with a mobile focus. Traditional agencies may have built a company’s existing Web site in addition to offering all of the services involved with marketing, such as creative and media placement. Mobile agencies will have less company or Web experience but will have deeper mobile expertise. Many offer a range of services — from end-to-end marketing campaign delivery through to designing and building mobile applications and Web sites. Some, such as The Hyperfactory, have their own proprietary platform as well. 5 POST is a methodology that Forrester has developed to assist companies with strategies that lead to the services and technology solutions most appropriate for their target audience. See the April 9, 2009, “The POST Method: A Systematic Approach To Mobile Strategy” report. 6 Among those individuals surveyed in Forrester’s North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey, Q2 2010 (US), 47% of US online adults with smartphones browse daily versus only 15% overall. In AdMob’s April 2010 report, which is based on 18.0 billion ad requests worldwide, 45% of its requests came from smartphones. In the US in April 2010, AdMob received 7.5 billion requests, 49% of which were from smartphones. Our interviews revealed that some companies are now taking a multitiered approach that combines agency or in-house builds for smartphone platforms with a managed service for the longer tail of handsets. Agencies reported that custom Webkit development was growing quickly, while the expected increased use and adoption of HTML5 would change how they build going forward. These reported trends from across agencies supports their claim to be doing an increasing amount of mobile Web development. Source: AdMob ( 7 Operating in different countries around the world is not simply an exercise in language translation. Countries and regions have unique wireless networks, regulations, policies, and handsets that require local knowledge. The number of handsets grows with the number of countries. In some countries, consumers pay with credit cards; in others, they pay through the carriers. Both content and taskflow preferences will vary by country. 8 Whether scraped from an existing Web site or built from the ground up, mobile Web sites are not standalone collections of code. They rely on the same content management systems and eCommerce platforms as Web sites. There are additional requirements. Content, for example, must be appropriate for a small screen. Images must fit small screens, while text must be proportionally larger than on a site designed for a PC. Last, finding the nearest store with a 3G 64 GB iPad is a great use of mobile, but the service must first have access to accurate inventory that is tagged with latitude and longitude coordinates.
  13. 13. Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward- thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester works with professionals in 20 key roles at major companies providing proprietary research, customer insight, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more than 26 years, Forrester has been making IT, marketing, and technology industry leaders successful every day. For more information, visit Headquarters Forrester Research, Inc. 400 Technology Square Cambridge, MA 02139 USA Tel: +1 617.613.6000 Fax: +1 617.613.5000 Email: Nasdaq symbol: FORR M a k i n g L e a d e r s S u c c e s s f u l E v e r y D a y 57134 For information on hard-copy or electronic reprints, please contact Client Support at +1 866.367.7378, +1 617.613.5730, or We offer quantity discounts and special pricing for academic and nonprofit institutions. For a complete list of worldwide locations visit Research and Sales Offices Forrester has research centers and sales offices in more than 27 cities internationally, including Amsterdam; Cambridge, Mass.; Dallas; Dubai; Foster City, Calif.; Frankfurt; London; Madrid; Sydney; Tel Aviv; and Toronto.