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A Mobile Friendly Economic Development Website

Whenever a new technology appears and becomes compelling because of user enthusiasm and growing adoption numbers, economic developers must make choices between status quo, opportunity and cost.

Just when EDOs are starting to get a handle on social media, it is happening again, this time with mobile web access. In what seems a very short time, accessing websites using mobile phones and tablets has shifted from incidental to insistent. Site selectors, like everyone else, consider web access from mobile devices a requirement of doing day-to-day business.

For economic developers, though, this means having another layer of web infrastructure to deal with. They can be forgiven for not wanting to dive into a mobile web project to meet ever increasing expectations! “How much cost, how much more time do we have to invest now?” an EDO is likely to ask.

The good news is that the solution is not as difficult as it seems.

Mobile Friendly Website Display

The basic mandate is to ensure that your website displays properly on a variety of mobile devices. A site selector using a mobile device is unlikely to find your data or descriptions easy to read or navigate if your website is not created for friendly mobile display. Tasks as simple as navigating to an internal page require zooming in and panning around to find the navigation bar – which might not even work on a mobile phone.

Should Your Economic Development Organization Consider a Mobile Website?

To help determine whether your organization should commit resources to addressing the mobility issue, there are two steps you should take:

The first is to gauge to what extent your audience is using mobile devices to access your investment attraction website. Your web content management system should enable you to measure your traffic and report how many visitors are using mobile devices. Are the numbers significant and growing? The answer will guide you in planning how soon you need to assist those viewers.

Second, conduct an assessment of whether your site is mobile friendly. Have you looked at it on various mobile devices? Schedule some time to do this, or if you don’t have access to one or more devices yourself, ask your staff and their family members to call up your site and report whether the user experience is positive or frustrating (you will probably be surprised at the variety of devices used by people known to your organization).

Implementing a Mobile Friendly Economic Development Website

If these two steps persuade you that action is needed, what’s next? Do you have to obtain a second URL and build another website from scratch to accommodate mobile viewers? While this is a viable option, it isn’t always the best option due to the duplication of effort required to maintain and manage another separate website.

There are simpler solutions available on the market. Modern content management systems (CMS) are designed to sense when the website is being accessed by a mobile device and automatically direct the inquiry to a mobile-friendly version of the website.

Automated Mobile Friendly CMS

Your organization does not need to allocate major resources to ensure the friendliness of a mobile website. Modern content management systems can do much of the work for you.

Automated tools can guide you in designing a mobile site for viewing on various devices. You can even create custom content for the mobile version of your site then enter it simply by selecting a mobile tab within the system.

The website can then be presented to viewers in a mobile friendly format created automatically. Navigation is simplified into an expandable and collapsible list, which can be accessed through a single icon.

You need not worry about doubling the amount of time required for updating of both your regular website and a mobile version of your website. With today’s content management systems, management of mobile version pages is integrated with the standard content. The mobile content can be even be updated with the same text editor.

As mobile devices become increasingly capable and the mobile audience grows, economic developers can offer effective mobile websites to all of their audiences using technology that is friendly to both users and the time-challenged Economic Development organization staff.

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