Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

11 October 2010

Hey, a Mobile-Optimised Agency Site!

I'll warn you in advance by admitting I'm not a developer (a fact that makes me very sad). So if at any point in this article you find I'm talking out of my ass, please correct me, and harshly.

Last month Nick Jones of Narrow Design (@narrowd) and McKinney (@mckinney) published screenshots of how the sites of major ad agencies - you know, the ones that claim to "get" digital - render on an iPhone. Most of them don't at all, or do with limited information, because most of them are heavily reliant on Flash. The list spread like anthrax in the agency social media sphere.

I like Flash and I get that Steve Jobs has a beef with Adobe or whatever. But in an environment where technology evolves faster than you can spin and say "hey presto," your digital front lines should be as lean and agnostic as possible: you don't know where that next client is coming from, or who's going to suddenly want to hit up your site in the middle of a conference from their handy-dandy first-gen iPad.

All that is to say Firstborn just released its mobile site, built on XHTML, and it's neat, functional and easy on the eyes. It loads superfast and navigates like a dream. Even the videos play nice and neat in their smug little Quicktime nests.

You see something as well-designed as this, and you're like, "Whoa, this seems too easy. What's taking everyone else so long?" And maybe that's what we should aim for: design so light-footed and well-planned that everybody else is like, "Of course it has to be this way."

This didn't happen by accident. Firstborn is one of the guilty agencies that appeared on Jones' original list of mobile screen shots. Less than a month ago, its mobile experience felt like this:

Jones gave the agency special props for being the quickest to meet his challenge of revamping.

In case you wondered, McKinney's own site uses Javascript, which works okay on mobile too (it site loads fast and all the features are there, but it basically looks like a webpage. You have to do a lot of zooming and poking about). Mobiforge is a good resource for figuring out how to use Javascript for mobile if you're into that.

But if you want to be waaay too cool for school, experiment with using HTML5 for mobile. It lets you do neat things - like enable people to download apps just by clicking on a link, instead of via the App Store. And if The Wilderness Downtown impressed you, then you also know it's capable of facilitating creativity in all kinds of ways.

The agnostic choice doesn't have to be ho hum. And hell, if you really, really don't want to do this yourself, there's always Mother App or Mobile Roadie (much preferred - they have experience building content-heavy apps for major firms. And they hand-hold).

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