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How to meet Web site development objectives cost-effectively: Forrester

Daily mobile Internet usage among United States adult mobile phone users grew from 7 percent at the end of 2008 to 10 percent in mid-2009 and to 15 percent in mid-2010, according to a report by Forrester Research titled, “How to Build a Mobile Web Site.” The report stresses that mobile data is not just about applications.

“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,” said Julie Ask, San Francisco-based vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, in the report. “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,” she said.

According to the report, brands that are looking to build a mobile Web site have five types of services available to them. The choice is based mostly on budgets and the type of experience they are looking to deliver.

The first option is fully managed services. This is basically outsourcing mobile Web development, hosting and maintenance. Usablenet, Digby and 2ergo are examples of companies that provide fully manages services.

Licensed technology platforms – or mobile enablement services – involves licensing a technology platform for device detection, content hosting and optimization. Cellit Mobile Marketing, iLoop Mobile and Netbiscuits provide a licensed technology platform.

Existing solutions providers, such as ecommerce platforms, are another option for brands.

Agencies are great for end-to-end mobile Web site development. They work on the creation, design, development and maintenance of a site. 5th Finger, AKQA, The Hyperfactory and Razorfish are examples of agencies.

Lastly, in-house builds can use all or just some of the approaches listed in the report. The company builds its own site in this case.

According to Ms. Ask, companies need a mobile strategy before they can begin to choose an approach to mobile Web design.

Forrester’s POST – which stands for People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology – process is outlined in the report. The process aims to help companies develop a mobile strategy methodically.

As part of the POST method, companies must come to a set of aligned strategic decisions on reach, offering, investment and value chain.

Forrester recommends that decisions flow from the company business strategy as opposed to vendors’ offerings.

“Working through the mobile POST process forces brands to answer strategic questions before making technology decisions and thinking about vendors,” Ms. Ask said in the report. “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,” she said.

Final take:
Mobile Marketer senior editor Giselle Tsirulnik talks about what is key for a mobile Web site’s success.