Best Practices in Mobile Web Site Access
Designing mobile-optimized web sites is hard enough. Imagine spending all of that time and money building a fantastic mobile-optimized web site -- only to discover that no one actually visits the site because they can't find it.
Experienced mobile web users have learned to expect that major web sites also have mobile versions. Unfortunately, the major mobile web sites use a handful of conventions for providing access to the mobile-optimized version of their sites. Some sites offer "m.mycompany.com" while others use "mycompany.com/wap" among many other variations.
So what is the best practice for supporting all of these different mobile web site address conventions? Support all of them, of course! Don't turn away mobile traffic unnecessarily (nor the juicy mobile advertising dollars, if your site is ad supported). Best yet -- it's easy to do and ought to take only a few minutes' of your tech team's time. (Okay, maybe as long as an hour...)
At Hand Interactive, all mobile-optimized web pages are saved in the "m" directory. So our mobile-optimized home page is actually:
Virtual Sub-Domains & Directories
It doesn't matter too much where your content lives, whether it's the "m" directory, "wap", "mobile", or even "giggle" directories. What does matter is whether your users can find your mobile content.
So this is where you need to take the smart approach and re-direct the short list of easily "guessable" domains and directories to your mobile content's real home.
We recommend that you enable the following addresses and redirect them to your mobile content. Click on the links to see them work with Hand Interactive's own web site.
- /m: www.hand-interactive.com/m This is the real location where our mobile content is stored.
- /mobile: www.hand-interactive.com/mobile (Redirected to /m)
- /wap: www.hand-interactive.com/wap Even though our content is not in WAP format, it can be easily viewed on most WAP browsers, and many people are in the habit of looking for content using the WAP keyword. (Redirected to /m)
- m.mycompany.com: http://m.hand-interactive.com (Redirected to /m)
- mobile.mycompany.com: http://mobile.hand-interactive.com (Redirected to /m)
- wap.mycompany.com: http://wap.hand-interactive.com (Redirected to /m)
iPhone-Specific Sub-Domains & Directories
There are a growing number of companies offering content that has been optimized for display on the iPhone (and iPod Touch). As with generic mobile web addresses, there appears to be one of several approaches to web naming that companies follow.
We don't currently have any iPhone-specific content, but if we did, we would store it in the "i" directory. Until we do, we redirect the following sub-domains and directories to our regular mobile content directory (/m):
- /i: www.hand-interactive.com/i This might be a good place to store your iPhone-optimized content. (We redirect to /m)
- /iphone: www.hand-interactive.com/iphone (Redirected to /m)
- i.mycompany.com: http://i.hand-interactive.com (Redirected to /m)
- iphone.mycompany.com: http://iphone.hand-interactive.com (Redirected to /m)
So in summary, the best practice is to support all of the obvious sub-domains (like wap.mycompany.com) and directories (like www.mycompany.com/wap) and redirect them to the real location for your mobile content.