Mobile-friendly websites are increasing in popularity--if you don't believe us, go back and reread the March issue of Entrepreneur. But crafting a site targeting mobile users requires some follow-through.
Once you have realized the need among your constituents for a mobilized website and developed one, you can't send it out into mobile browsers without testing it. Yet with a multitude of devices and device operating system profiles, mobile website developers face a mountainous task in assuring that their new sites perform and display adequately on all of them. If the sites fall short, you can hardly call them "mobile-friendly" with a straight face.
Keynote Systems, a company that provides cloud-based mobile and internet monitoring services, is looking to streamline the validation challenge with a desktop application that site developers, operational staffs and quality analysis teams can download for free and use to simulate the experience of browsing a website on different kinds of devices. The company's Mobile Internet Testing Environment (MITE) 2.1 features a library of 2,000 devices and 12,000 device software profiles.
MITE uses WebKit, the browser engine used by most smartphones. It allows point-and-click test scripting, so automated tests can be conducted on one phone model or on multiple models. A scoring system produces individual grades for dozens of site performance factors for each phone tested. MITE users can scroll through them one at a time and see performance scores immediately highlighted.
"If a specific image is the problem in viewing a page, you can zero in on that image and fix it," says Nisheeth Mohan, senior product manager at Keynote Systems. "Companies with a mobile website may not have control over the performance of networks, but this is something they can have control over to make their sites as optimized for every mobile user as possible."
In addition to the free version, Keynote offers MITE Pro, which starts at $5,000 but enables many more testing capabilities, such as over-the-air testing--including access time--on different mobile carrier networks around the world, remote over-the-air troubleshooting, technical support and other options.
Using a comprehensive testing system can help companies with new mobilized websites cut their time to market and allow them to launch their sites to all devices at the same time, rather than favoring iPhone users and forcing the rest of the mobile community to wait. And once they do launch, they can be sure mobile users see the sites the way they were meant to be seen. "If someone finds your site hard to navigate," Mohan says, "they aren't going to stay."