Mobile Websites made easy

One of the things I have been grappling with for a while is the need to tap into the Mobile Market in South Africa. We obviously want to optimise our traditional online communication and marketing, but the stats speak for themselves: 4 million people with an internet connection and nearly ten times that (~38 million people) with cell phones. What I haven’t seen yet, is data on how many of those cell phones are wap-enabled but, even if it’s only a third, that’s a huge market.

The problem is that the cost of building and maintaining a wap website worth visiting on a regular basis is still relatively expensive – the reason being that there are so many different cell phone models with no standard operating system, so you practically have to have a different website for each model. Not very efficient.

However, today a colleague informed me of a new innovation (to give credit where credit is due, she heard about it from her friend Jayx, who wrote about it here). Opera Mini have created a programme which you can download on to your phone for free, which resizes websites to be viewed on a cell phone. (If you’re reading this from your cell phone, you can go to the wap version of the site.)

Using Opera Mini, you can get an overview of the whole page and then zoom in to read it but – and here’s the clever part – it reformats the text so that there is no scrolling back and forth required. In fact, you can select an option to convert the entire page into one long column the width of your cell phone screen.

Another cool feature is the landscape option. If your cell phone screen is longer than it is wide (i.e. the case for most cell phones), you can select the landscape option to provide for longer lines of text to fit in all those big words that bloggers love to use šŸ™‚

Anyway, upshot of this is that we can put a link to Opera Mini on our website, so anyone wanting to view it from their cellphone can download the necessary software. We get a significant increase in accessibility to our full site without the substantial investment in a multiple platform wap site.

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