What is a mobile companion site?

February 1, 2010

Have you noticed that many websites are coming out with mobile versions of themselves? They are optimized for the smaller screen real estate available and a slightly smaller feature set.

Another option is to expand your offerings by enhancing part of your site and delivering that on a mobile device. In fact, this new offering can be totally different from your site but still be integrated and act as a companion.

The idea is to take advantage of what the mobile device has to offer rather than falling prey to its perceived limitations. Here are some functions that are typically thought of as phone-only although some can be done to some extent on a desktop computer:

Combine that with the usual computer functions:

How does this turn out in real list? Take Pizza Hut, for example. They already have a website, but their iPhone app lets you order food as well as play a racing game. When you’re ordering food, the app takes advantage of the phone’s accelerometer by allowing you to physically shake it for additional options.

News organizations like USA Today and Fox News have web sites, too. In fact, they both have mobile versions of their sites–but they also both have iPhone companion apps on top of that. USA Today’s app takes advantage of the iPhone’s location awareness to provide current weather conditions. Cleveland’s Fox station has their own app for local news and weather.

Yet another example is Nationwide Insurance. They thoroughly leverage the iPhone’s capabilities by allowing the user to take pictures of an accident site and submit all the pertinent information immediately as well as providing hotlink phone buttons for emergency services, police, and even your insurance agent.

Your company can add functionality that drives mobile users and their specific needs to your brand in a new and interesting way.

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