There is no question that mobile usage is on the rise in a big way. Law firms are starting to get inundated with companies ready to sell them everything from mobile versions of their current websites to custom apps created just for the firm. There is absolutely, no doubt in my mind that a good mobile experience will become increasingly important moving forward. That being said, is now the time for you to invest big bucks into your firm's mobile presence? My two cents is that it depends.
Let's take a closer look.
Using Google Analytics To Track Mobile Visitors
The first step is to get a better understanding of how many visitors are accessing your website via mobile devices. Luckily, if you are using Google Analytics, this is very easy to track.
Login to your Google Analytics account and on the left navigation select Visitors | Mobile | Mobile Devices.
Next change the "None" dimension filter to “Screen Resolution”:
This will give you a nice snapshot of your mobile traffic as well as the operating systems, screen resolutions, and devices being used. Take a hard look at the numbers. You'll want to ask yourself:
- What total percentage of your visitors are viewing the site from mobile devices?
- Are the number of mobile visitors increasing each month?
- Are the bounce rates, page views, and time on site lower for your mobile visitors than the rest of the site traffic?
Understanding answers to these questions will help determine if a mobile version of your website is an investment you should look into making right now. Your decision should be predicated on how it brings the firm more business and helps with traffic conversion. Not just jumping on the mobile bandwagon because everyone tells you should (or because they have a product to sell).
Forget About Custom Apps
A quick note on custom apps for your firm. Don't waste your money. Consumers are not going to be downloading a custom app for your firm. Kevin O'Keefe makes a strong case against custom apps in an article titled, Why Your Law Firm Should Forget About Building An Iphone App. In short, his reasons against custom apps are:
- Your law firm's app will never get found or used widely
- The logic for developing an app for content distribution (ie: your blog and website articles and information) is flawed. People are gravitating towards using apps that aggregate content such as Zite, Kindle, or Flipboard. They don't want to, nor are they going to, download a separate app for each blog or website they visit.
Kevin suggests getting your firm's blog on Kindle or connecting into networks such as JD Supra or Lexblog where people are aggregating content by subject.
I would add that if anything, you are better off investing in an "app-like" experience through a mobile browser than purchasing a custom app.
Alternative Solutions If Your Site Is On WordPress
If your website is built on WordPress then there are solutions in the form of plugins to ensure a better experience for your mobile site visitors. WPTouch is a plugin I recommend. There is a free version as well as paid versions of the plugin. It supports the Iphone, Ipad, Android, etc.
The Mobile Experience Will Evolve
One reason that I would be hesitant to recommend investing heavily in mobile-optimized versions of sites right now is that the market is still developing. There is no doubt that this is the future. That being said, the interactivity will continue to change as well as the infrastructure and best practices for mobile development. I believe that mobile devices will get better and better at displaying the "real web" and there will be companies that help to deliver "app-like" experiences for your site at lower costs. You might be better off holding steady for a little while, continue to monitor your mobile visitor numbers, ensure your current site is usable via mobile devices, and see how things shake out.