UNLESS you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that the mobile web has seen explosive growth over the past year — and all projections are that it will be the fastest growing area of the web in the next few years.
The numbers are staggering. Did you know, for instance, that more than 200 million people globally are using the mobile version of Facebook? Or that according to the Pew Internet and American Life Mobile Access Report, 40% of American adults use the Internet, email or instant messaging on a mobile phone — up from 32% just a year ago.
Not impressed? Well, if ever you needed something to convince you that a mobile IR website should be in your department’s future, the following chart is it. Drawing on the work of experts at Cisco, it shows how mobile data traffic is expected to grow around the world to 2014. Basically, it’s expected to quadruple.
Now that you’re suitably convinced, let’s discuss what your mobile IR website should look like.
Follow the W3C’s standards and test compliance
Mobile websites require a simple user interface, light-weight content and strict adherence to basic web standards. The standards are the W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0. A summary of the standards is also available.
Ideally, any mobile website that you develop should achieve a 100% score on the W3C MobileOK checker, which is an online utility that tests mobile sites for conformance with mobile web best practices.
In our tests thus far, no mobile IR website has achieved complete compliance on the MobileOK checker. However, don’t rely on this test alone because machine tests are not the same as human ones. As you’ll see later, the highest ranking site according to the MobileOK checker wasn’t at all easy to use, or find. Which brings us to the next big issue with mobile sites.
Detect and serve to mobile devices
When someone using a mobile device visits an IR website, they should automatically be taken to the mobile version. This applies for all mobile phones, including smart ones.
It’s extremely frustrating when you access an IR site on phone and then have to click around and zoom in on areas of each page trying to find a link to the mobile site. On the mobile site homepage or in the navigation, you can provide a link to the standard web page for those who are willing to do the extra work zooming in and out to use the standard pages.
Also consider offering more than one version of your mobile site, such as one for standard web-enabled phones and one for smart phones with larger screens, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones or Android phones.
Kudos to one big vendor
I rarely have good things to say about the big IR website vendors, but for once I have to say that NASDAQ OMX-owned Shareholder.com deserves tons for praise for providing mobile versions for all of its clients’ sites free of charge. And not just one mobile version, but a standard mobile version and an iPhone version. Visit any Shareholder.com website on a mobile device and you’ll automatically see them.
OK, they’re not the best designed mobile sites and they score poorly on the MobileOK checker, but at least Shareholder.com is doing something, which can’t be said about the other IR website vendors.
Now for the examples. Below are screenshots, links, brief comments, and the MobileOK checker scores for 12 mobile IR websites that together provide a good overview of the state of mobile investor relations websites today.
If you’re thinking about developing a mobile version of your IR website, there’s sure to be some good ideas among the companies on this list.
1. Telekom Austria (MobileOK score = 51%)
Comments: A nice looking, full site that’s really easy to navigate. There’s a lot of information there, but it’s disappointing that there’s no calendar and you can’t listen to any webcasts.
2. Husqvarna (MobileOK score = 28%)
Comments: Concise and simple. Designed for cell phones. Nothing to write home about, except that the MobileOK score is unacceptably low for such a small site.
3. Beiersdorf (MobileOK score = 95%)
Comments: A poorly designed site that makes you work too much. Once you move away from the homepage the only navigation option is to go back to the homepage. The calendar page puts the oldest event at the top, forcing you to scroll to the bottom to see what’s coming up next. The 95% score on the MobileOK checker just proves that automated tests are no substitute for actual human tests.
4. Siemens (MobileOK score = 40%)
Comments: Odd, there’s no News section. Actually, there is one, but you won’t see it if you search for “Siemens investor relations” and go directly to the mobile IR site. On the positive side, they detect mobile devices and offer a link to the standard version. Still, never expect people to access your site through the homepage, especially not on a mobile device.
5. Novatel Wireless (MobileOK score = 32%)
Comments: One of Shareholder.com’s clients, Novatel Wireless offers two mobile versions: a standard mobile version and an iPhone one. Getting around the sites is easy, especially on an iPhone. But there’s no contact information, the events section has no content besides placeholders, and I’m not sure SEC filings, which are provided in PDF, are what people are looking from a mobile site. And what’s with the horrid MobileOK score? Still, at least Shareholder.com is on the mobile case, which is more than one can say about its competitors.
6. SAB Miller (MobileOK score = 95%)
Comments: Simple and easy to use, with a correct focus on news, for which two years of releases are provided. The contacts page is complete, but the Calendar left me wanting more, like archived presentations in some kind of mobile format. Great MobileOK score. Only thing I didn’t like is that the site doesn’t detect iPhone and automatically serve the mobile version. I had to navigate around to find the mobile site after landing on the site from Google.
7. Deutsche Post DHL (MobileOK score = 77%)
Comments: It’s difficult to use because the text links are small and don’t have enough space between them. Navigating with fat fingers on a touch screen is exceptionally difficult. That said, this site has one really cool feature: you can subscribe to the calendar and add all events in one click (I use Google Calendar on my phone).
8. Benetton (MobileOK score = 57%)
Comments: This one’s hosted by Thomson Reuters, which is why I’m including it. It’s not fun to use because the navigation is all at the bottom of the screen. The calendar was empty when I tested it. It’s old and it shows.
9. Royal Dutch Shell (MobileOK score = 73%)
Comments: The main IR site didn’t detect my phone, so it took two clicks to get to the mobile site from the IR homepage. Once on the mobile site, it’s all a bit too ho-hum when the rest of the corporate site is so good. As you can tell from the URL, the mobile site is built and hosted by Investis, a pretty good corporate website developer based in the UK – except when it comes to mobile sites, that is.
10. J. Sainsbury plc (MobileOK score = 97%)
Comments: If I didn’t have this one bookmarked, I’d never have found it on my phone. There’s no mobile detection and no link that I could see anywhere on the main site. Yet it’s the highest-scoring site on the MobileOK checker in this group. However, it seems that someone forgot they even have this site, so there’s no point saying more.
11. Homex (MobileOK score = 54%)
Comments: This really isn’t a mobile site because once you move beyond the homepage, everything breaks. It has shockingly poor navigation, which bounces you between mobile pages and standard web pages. The calendar was out of date, and while the mobile site offers a webcast of the latest results, it didn’t work at all. This site promises much more than it delivers.
12. Allianz (MobileOK score = 94%)
Comments: Unfortunately, there’s no auto-detection of mobile browsers on the main site, so you may never find the mobile version of Allianz’s IR website. If you do, however, it’s reasonably good. The highlight is the excellent share information section, where you can get quotes for the company’s competitors as well. It’s also the only site in the group that offers to notify you of new information via text message or SMS. Allianz also has an iPhone app, but you’ll never know that if you visit the site on an iPhone, go figure.
Can you get 100%?
If you’ve developed a mobile IR website that scores 100% for each page on the MobileOK test, let us know and we’ll write a feature on your site. We’re also always interested to hear your views and ideas. Comments are open…