It's About the Mobile User, Not the Mobile Web
The concept of the Mobile Web isn't new. In fact, it's down right archaic in terms of technology life-cycles. The idea came about with the introduction of the first web-enabled phones, because it turned out that web-enabled phones were actually quite "dis-abled" when it came to surfing the web. Terribly slow load times and even worse HTML rendering left web developers with only one option: build a completely separate website just for mobile devices. And voilà, the Mobile Web was born.
While mobile web developers were working toward highly optimized images, concise user interfaces, finely-tuned content, and clear calls to action for mobile devices; desktop web developers were, well, doing exactly the same thing for desktops. But somewhere along the way, mobile devices evolved beyond mere phones and began acting like full fledged computers. The technological lines between mobile device and desktop computer became blurred to the point that, if done well, developing a website for mobile and desktop could be one and the same.
One might begin to wonder what all this Mobile Web hubbub is about if a single site can work for everything. The issue lies in semantics. No, not web semantics, but the meaning of the phrase "Mobile Web". It suggests that the internet itself is different for mobile and desktop computers, and it was. But now that mobile devices are running high-resolution screens with powerful processors and can access broadband internet, the Mobile Web has become a bit of a misnomer.
Enter the Mobile User. These days, when people talk about the Mobile Web, what they are really talking about is web users on mobile devices. Now instead of technology needing attention, it is human interaction. Mobile User behavior on the web is very different than someone sitting in front of a desktop machine. Understanding those differences, planning for them, and successfully incorporating them into a website intended for mobile consumption is what the Mobile Web is actually all about.
When considering approaching a web project for mobile services make sure you are working toward the right goal. Should you spend time building a 5 page form that works on every mobile device, or focus on placing quick contact information front and center? Do you convert your entire site to a mobile friendly format or choose select pages for a dedicated mobile version? As you answer questions like these, just remember: it's about the Mobile User, not the Mobile Web.