Best Practice: Mobile Web Strategy – Learning from Nature Education’s Scitable.com

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Scitable-mobile-access-sm While everyone is piling on to the mobile app model for delivering functionality and content, the pioneering team at Nature Education Group took a different approach. They stepped back and thought about what their customers actually needed the most. This led them to the conclusion that they needed to lead with a mobile web implementation, not a mobile app.

They also did some deep thinking about SEO. What most web teams do is to design separate mobile web sites. It’s the easiest thing to do. But Vikram Savkar’s team educated themselves on mobile search and realized that their search rankings would suffer if they used that approach.

Then there’s the question about what to outsource and what to do in-house, particularly if you have a lean development team of 10 people. Perhaps counter-intuitively, Vikram Savkar and Michael Powers decided that it was really important to build an in-house competency in mobile web development.

I learned a lot from both Vikram and Michael. As they talked through the decisions they made, I made a list of all the elements they considered, including:

1. What types of mobile devices do our target customers use? What kinds of mobile devices do we think they’ll they be likely to use in the future?

2. What’s the business model for our mobile strategy?

3. Do we need a Mobile web site or a mobile App, or both? Which approach will work best for our target customers?

4. What’s the best way to get up to speed on what we need to know about designing for mobile?

5. What activities should we do in-house? What should we outsource?

6. What should our Mobile Web Search Optimization (SEO) Strategy be?

7. How do we need to structure our content for mobile?

8. Which content and/or application functionality do want to enable for our mobile users?

9. How will we test our mobile sites as we add content, features, and functionality?

10. What can we measure? What kind of instrumentation, analytics, and reporting can we enable?

Business Model Expectations

As I was discussing the business model options for mobile support with Vikram, I had a sense of déjà vu. It seems to me that most publishers seem to be moving towards a consensus that says: Customers won’t pay for an online subscription to content. But they will pay for a mobile app that contains constantly updated content. It’s a fascinating conclusion, and it may be true. Notice how much resistance The New York Times is getting to its announcement that we’ll have to pay for an online subscription? Personally, I’m a fan of bundled business models: sell me the print + online + app for one bundled price, and let me access this content on all my devices. And, yes, give me free access to some of the content online and as an app so that I can try it and decide whether or not to pay more for premium access.

For Scitable’s business model—that of providing sponsored scientific content for free to anyone in the world, making that information as broadly accessible as possible from the mobile web is a winning proposition. If you want to see a really GOOD mobile web implementation, just point your mobile web browser at www.scitable.com!

Nature’s Scitable: Going Mobile
Why Scitable Chose a Mobile Web Strategy Over a Mobile App Strategy for Its First Mobile Initiative
By Patricia B. Seybold, CEO and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, March 31, 2011

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.

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