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Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most?

In Part 1 of “Going Mobile,” we established the need for creating websites that are tailor made for mobile devices. Now that we’re ready to make the leap, there are some important things to consider before beginning work on a design.

What Content Matters Most to My Visitors?

Perhaps the most relevant issue to camp on is what content is most valuable to your users when they’re on the go. Visitors are likely just killing time when they’re surfing on a mobile device, so it’s not a bad idea to cut the fat and deliver only the most pertinent content (And yes, it’s still important to make sure all of your content is available somehow… I’ll touch on this in a future post).

I found that the best way to do this was to check out some historical stats from our full website. After digging through our stats and thinking through the content best suited to a mobile experience, I decided upon the following items…

  • News and Events – This one is kind of a no-brainer. The largest chunk of our web audience is hitting the site frequently just to see what’s coming up at Long Hollow and what’s happening during the week.
  • Prayer Requests – This is a hugely popular feature of our full site, and one that translates well to a mobile environment. It would be great to be able to check the prayer wall and toss up a quick prayer on the go.
  • Audio (and Video) – This didn’t immediately occur to me as a possibility until I dug a little deeper into what these modern devices are capable of. It turns out that this is relatively painless to execute.
  • Directions and Maps – This was something I definitely wanted to support for new visitors, and the widespread nature of Google Maps these days makes it easy to implement.
  • Contact Information – Stating the obvious here since they’re accessing things from a phone.
  • Weekly Schedules – Another great piece of information for new visitors.
  • A Gospel Presentation – I like to have this in every piece of media I produce where it makes sense… after all, it is what we’re all about :-)
  • A Few Other Odds and Ends – More on this in a future post.

What Platforms Should I Support?

Now that the meat of the mobile site is nailed down, it’s tempting to jump right into the design phase. Before we set out to code everything though, it’s important to set a common target for our design/code that will be compatible across all of our target devices.

Obviously, Mobile Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch is the gold standard for mobile web browsing right now, and it turns out that it’s put on that pedestal for a good reason; browsing the web on almost every other device out there just plain sucks. Thankfully, there are a few lights at the end of the tunnel.

Google’s increasingly popular Android mobile OS packs a webkit-based browser that’s nearly identical in capability to Mobile Safari (and there are dozens of Android devices planned to debut throughout 2009). The WebOS featured in Palm’s imminent Pre device is also built on webkit, and the early reports actually peg it as being a superior browsing experience to Mobile Safari. It appears that the trend is moving toward standards-compliant mobile browsers with great JavaScript support, and away from the clunky browsers shoe-horned into other mobile devices.

Another quick look at our stats helped to cement my decision; out of all of our mobile web traffic, about 95% came from Apple devices, 2% from Android, and the remaining 3% from business devices like Blackberry’s and Windows Mobile Phones.

As much as I’d love to support Blackberry’s and Mobile Internet Explorer, the overwhelming majority of my audience would have to sacrifice their mobile experience for the compatibility of a small handful of folks. Since the future of the web on mobile devices is heading in the direction of these powerful new browsers, I decided that’s the direction I need to go with our mobile site. Chances are, the other software vendors will follow suit and we’ll gain even more compatibility as these platforms mature.

Continue by reading Part 3 as we begin digging into the dirty details of the design process, complete with some fun rough mock ups from early on!

More from “Going Mobile:”

Going Mobile – Part 1: Why Do a Mobile Site?
Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most?
Going Mobile – Part 3: Big Design on a Tiny Canvas
Going Mobile – Part 4: Not From Concentrate
Going Mobile – Part 5: Where the Magic Happens
Going Mobile – Part 6: Final Touches

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  1. [...] Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most? [...]

  2. [...] Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most? [...]

  3. [...] Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most? [...]

  4. [...] Mobile – Part 1: Why Do a Mobile Site? Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most? Going Mobile – Part 3: Big Design on a Tiny Canvas Going Mobile – Part 4: Not From Concentrate [...]

  5. [...] Mobile – Part 1: Why Do a Mobile Site? Going Mobile – Part 2: What Matters Most? Going Mobile – Part 3: Big Design on a Tiny Canvas Going Mobile – Part 4: Not From Concentrate [...]


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