Friday, December 04, 2009

Making Web Site that Fit Your Phone

Companies are increasingly turning to Web communities to build their brand, provide customer service, and unveil new products. Online forums, which often allow costumers to address a problem before they have to call a service line, have saved millions of dollars in deflected calls. A unique challenge is arising for these companies, however, as more and more people choose to access the Web on their mobile phones. Web sites created for computers usually don't load as well onto phones, so many companies, including Hewlett-Packard, are discussing ways to build new Web sites specifically for wireless users. "We definitely have work to do to get our Web site mobile friendly, [and] we know our customers want it," says Lois Townsend, H-P's directory of community.

There's an upside to creating content for cellphones, however: it provides a greater opportunity to be interactive with customers. Lithium Technologies Inc., plans to create a platform this year through which companies can draw feeds from services like Facebook and Twitter onto their own sites. It will work on any phone. Phillip Soffer, Lithium's vice president of product marketing, says that "because the community is active and based on addictive behavior, it's the kind of thing that works well on mobile phones." Other companies are also seeking to bring large corporate sites to the mobile Web. Jive Software Inc., which currently powers communities for companies like Nike, is working with a program designed specifically for the iPhone. In focusing on smart-phone users, Jive is hoping to tap customers with a desire for deeper functionality.

Build a stronger business by building and cultivating an online community that's as convenient as a cell phone.