Buyer s Guide to Hiring A Mobile Agency

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1 Buyer s Guide to Hiring A Mobile Agency 11/1/ ESSENTIAL TIPS TO HIRE THE PERFECT MOBILE WEBSITE DEVELOPER By Ryan Boog CEO Happy Dog Web Productions

2 This is not a guide for mobile-savvy folks, or mobile developers, or people who understand mobile development front to back. No. This guide is for beginners who want to hire a mobile website agency. This guide is for YOU if one of your to-do items is research and hire a mobile development company, but when it comes to mobile development companies, you don t have a clue. Whether you are a marketing director of a small-to-mid-size business, a business owner, or a company executive, we wrote this guide to give you all the facts you need to hire the right mobile developer. Page 1

3 Why mobile? You re probably reading this guide because you ve discovered the importance of a mobile website. It s true that a mobile presence is a no longer a fancy extra techie feature. In a growingly mobile economy, a mobile website is your best bet to reach the smartphone and tablet crowd. With mobile usage growing and expected to takeover desktop Internet usage by 2015, companies have to consider how they will interact with customers in a mobile environment. 72% of consumers expect companies to have mobile-friendly sites nowadays and nearly all consumers have been to a site that wasn t mobile-friendly. 1 Smartphone and tablet interaction happens at the beach, in the car, at the grocery store. These are new territories where desktops and laptops are less likely to venture. Now that people can access Internet virtually anywhere as they wait in the dentist s office, shop in brick-and-mortar stores, and ride the train home from work businesses are waking up to the necessity of having a strong, informative, brand-consistent mobile presence. But even more important than the portability of the Internet these days is the way consumers are often ready to buy, go, search, call, sign up, or learn more as they interact with your mobile website. The ability to surf the Internet from a handheld device means people are doing all the typical online actions right on their smartphone or mobile device. So is your website ready for mobile interaction? If you re ready to go mobile, we ll help you find a quality mobile developer by going through 10 essential tips to consider when hiring a mobile development company. Online marketing is crucial to the success of your business and you want your mobile development investment to boost your business success even more Page 2

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5 Buyer s Guide to Hiring a Mobile Agency 1 0 E S S E N T I A L T I P S T O H I R E T H E P E R F E C T M O B I L E W E B S I T E D E V E L O P E R 1. You don t have to understand mobile but they do. Mobile websites differ from desktop websites in a variety of significant ways. For one thing, they are constricted to a smaller screen, so they typically contain only the most relevant, important information. Site navigation is often simplified so users can quickly find what they re looking for. Text and buttons are also enlarged to make both reading and interacting with your thumbs easy and quick. Overall, mobile websites are simpler than desktop less links, less graphics, less information but that doesn t mean they re a piece of cake to develop. The trick here is to hire someone who has a thorough, nuanced understanding of the mobile experience versus the desktop experience. But how do you know if they understand mobile if you don t? Don t feel pressure to tell your mobile developer what to do. You re hiring an expert to develop your mobile site because you are not an expert. Their testimonials, portfolio, and the way they describe their work to you should all speak to their expertise.

6 2. Scout all-around developers, not just mobile experts experience. Hire someone who is quick, smart, intuitive, and who demonstrates a deep understanding of software development but they don t have to market themselves as a mobile expert. The thing is, mobile trends are here and gone in a second. Because mobile is so new and constantly changing, you d do best to hire a developer with lots of design and development Yes, they should have designed for mobile before. But if you find a developer who does both desktop and mobile well, they ll get how each Internet experience varies, and they ll know how best to design for both. 3. But do make sure they speak the mobile language. Mobile development and desktop development are unique, although there is crossover of skills and tools. Any developer you hire should both speak the typical web development language and know mobile lingo, too. Here are some terms they should be familiar with: Time to glass. The time to take the website and make it appear on the screen. Light-weight design loads faster in mobile browsers. On a 3G connection, websites should still load under 3 seconds. Device detection. Developers can redirect mobile users to your mobile site by being told what device they are using. Mobile SEO. Search engine optimization putting your site at the top of the search results requires work for mobile along with desktop. Page 1

7 User interface (UI) practices. This refers to the appearance and usability of a site. Developers try to meet user expectations for how a site works and functions to prevent frustration and confusion. Responsive design. Lately heralded as the best way to design a mobile website. It keeps your content and adjusts it based on the width of the device. 4. Have a general idea of what you actually want on the site How do you expect mobile users to engage with your mobile site? Before hiring a mobile website developer, spend a few minutes brainstorming with your coworkers or marketing department. Do you want certain banners or graphics to show up on the site? Remember that space is at a premium, so only the most essential items can go on the site. But if there are videos, certain words, or graphics, such as your logo, that are essential to helping your customers recognize your brand on a stripped-down mobile site, make note. As you can see from two screenshots of Amazon s mobile site contrasted with their desktop screenshot below, the mobile version is less text and graphic-heavy and is more concerned with helping users navigate the site. Page 2

8 Amazon s desktop version of their website is more geared toward the user who has a mouse and intends to perform different functions than the mobile user. A great mobile developer will be able to take your list of what you want and fly. They ll know what additional items mobile users need and expect to see on mobile websites, such as buttons for call us now!, menu options like find a store, and a link that will take users to the full desktop version of the website. Are there must-haves in terms of information that you want on the mobile site? (i.e. exhibit listings, menus, maps, product information, etc.) How will you keep your brand consistent? How will people know your mobile website is connected to your actual website? Do you want mobile advertising? If a mobile developer knows to allow for that, it will be helpful to them. Page 3

9 5. Consider mobile websites vs. mobile applications Typically, mobile websites are considered to have a broader marketing reach, be more shareable, and endure longer than an app. 2 Many companies enjoy great success at reaching customers on a mobile website. For example, Minnesota s Star Tribune transforms to m.startribune.com/ when you search the site on a mobile device. Other sites offer mobile applications. Mobile applications can be a great fit for sites that require regular, personalized usage (like a library website) or offer games or other interactive features (for example, Disneyland has an app for park visitors). Pinterest is a perfect example. On a mobile device, it makes sense for Pinterest to be an app rather than a mobile site. The downside to apps is that they can be more expensive and time-consuming to develop because they are so customized. Consider the needs of your customers: would they use an app on a regular basis, or would a mobile website be a better catch-all for your traffic? Decide which one makes sense for your business. Then when you re scouting developers, you don t have to worry if they have only done one or the other you can hire appropriately. Page 4

10 6. Ensure your mobile developer can design across all operating systems With mobile devices on a variety of operating systems nowadays including ios, Android, and Windows ensure that your mobile website developer can give you a site that will perform well across all of them. Note that it does take a developer longer to code for multiple operating systems, but it s important for your site to be easily accessed in each browser. Consumers use different browsers depending on their preferences and devices. You want your site to perform well on all of them. 7. NO ADOBE FLASH Flash was a flash in the pan. If you re confused as to what Flash is, we re referencing an outdated design and development method that is pre-html5. Adobe Flash is a streaming animation style for web pages. It s slow to load and requires a certain plugin. All you need to understand is that Flash does NOT typically work well on mobile devices. 8. Keep your ears and eyes open Where do you find a great mobile website developer? Anywhere and everywhere! Most people prefer hiring based on recommendation or through a connection, so keep your ears and eyes open to find the developers that might already be in your life. Start with referrals. Talk to companies in your industry or local companies that are a comparable size to yours. If they have a mobile site, who developed it for them? It can be a great advantage to you to hire a local mobile developer because mobile searches are specific to geographic location. A local developer will know your city and the local scene. Page 5

11 Quality web development and SEO companies can probably develop a mobile site for you it s always worth asking. Another good place to look is LinkedIn who amongst your contacts has a web design background? Chances are they may have experience developing for mobile. 9. It s all about the consumer experience When consumers are on mobile devices, they are taskoriented, according to Google s global mobile sales and strategy Jason Spero. 2 In other words, they don t have all day to tinker around with your mobile site. If they have a bad experience, 61% of customers will leave. Make sure your mobile developer understands the consumer experience and how vital a good consumer experience is to your online marketing success. You don t want to lose consumers because your site stinks! 10. Hire a marathon runner, not a sprinter Any mobile website or application will be new territory for your company. You may not get it right the first time you may leave off some essential bit of information or do something slightly wacky. Hire a developer who s willing to test, tweak, and revisit the site. You ll want to get feedback from your consumers when the site is live and new, so make sure to hire a mobile developer who has a perfectionist mentality. We hope you feel more equipped to hire a mobile developer. By paying attention to these ten essential tips, you ll understand the market you re entering, the problem you re solving, and the type of person who can solve it. Thanks for reading! Happy Dog Web Productions 1310 Highway 96 East, Suite 240 White Bear Lake, MN (651)243-2DOG Page 6

12 Sources: We ll bark like crazy if you visit our website, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook! 1. Peterson, Tim. 72% of Consumers Expect Brands to Have Mobile-Friendly Sites. (September 2012) Retrieved from: 2. Summerfield, Jason. Mobile Website vs. Mobile Application: Which is Best for Your Organization? Retrieved from: 3. Peterson Photo sources: 1. Man working at desk: 2. Flash logo: 3. To-do list: Lathamcenterspws.blogspot.com Page 7

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