Scale It Down
More than 1 billion people worldwide will be accessing the internet from a mobile device at least once a month by 2010, according to IDC Internet Commerce Market Model, version 11.1. A great way to make your website accessible via BlackBerry or cell phone is to build a .mobi version.
"This top-level domain name is the first to distinguish a website based on the protocol it uses vs. the type of company it is," says Charles Steinfield, chairperson of the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University.
To get a .mobi name, start with your hosting provider or domain name company. You simply sign up for a .mobi name the way you'd sign up for a .com one. You can also advertise the new name on your materials to let customers know your site works on mobile devices.
Next, you'll have to format your site upfront so that it will render properly on as many mobile devices as possible. The best way to do this is to work with a designer who has been certified to follow the .mobi standards created by MTLD Top Level Domain Ltd. in Dublin, Ireland, the organization behind the .mobi domain name. To find these designers, check out the MTLD website.
Here in the U.S., Network Solutionsrecently launched a web tool that lets site owners comply with the MTLD standards (prices range from $21.99 to $34.99 per year). It also plans to offer a "do it for me" design service this year to help companies build .mobi sites. Prices will start at less than $300.
The goal of any .mobi site is to offer simple navigation that only requires the use of the up or down key. All information must also be easily read on a small screen and clearly displayed without left or right scrolling. These sites are designed to solve the biggest barriers to mobile internet use--poorly formatted pages, excessive content, slow access and long load times--which lead to costly mobile bills and difficult logins and navigation. As surfing from your BlackBerry gets easier, expect more people to jump on the mobile internet bandwagon.