Do you need to use a .MOBI domain name to get the most out of your mobile web site? The answer isn’t crystal clear.
First of all, if you simply want to protect your brand across many different versions of Top Level Domains (TLD’s) then you should consider registering the .mobi version of your domain as well. .MOBI domains aren’t any more expensive than the others, so why not lock it up if you are concerned about your brand and have a few extra bucks?
Why were .MOBI domains created in the first place? .MOBI domains were created so that a specific set of rules could be implemented to make a certain segment of the web (the mobile web) an enjoyable experience for mobile devices.
This made good sense in 2006, when .MOBI domains were first available for registration. Many mobile devices were incapable of displaying web pages in the same way as a full featured web browser on a typical computer.
Bandwidth was also at a premium for mobile devices – the multimedia and code that normally needs to load to display a full-featured web page will eat up a lot of bandwidth very quickly on a restrictive or expensive mobile data plan.
.MOBI sites are:
- Designed to work and display well on small mobile phone screens
- Designed to use a minimum amount of bandwidth
Users visiting a .MOBI site can be assured that their experience will fall in line with these conventions – this is why .MOBI is a good idea for the public, and for your mobile web visitors.
.MOBI provides a sense of confidence in mobile web users – they can visit a .MOBI site knowing that it is optimized for their mobile device.
Follow the .MOBI Rules
.MOBI sites have to follow certain rules.
They must be coded in mobile-friendly XHTML-MP (the MP stands for “Mobile Profile”)
Also, .MOBI sites must work if the user fails to add www. to the front of the domain name. A user must be able to reach your site by typing “yourdomain.mobi” rather than “www.yourdomain.mobi”. This is required because it minimizes the amount of typing that your mobile site visitors will need to do to input your web address.
The other major rule is that .MOBI domain names can’t use iframe redirects.
Is .MOBI Necessary?
This simple question is debated throughout the Internet. In my opinion .MOBI isn’t necessary. This doesn’t mean it’s not useful or doesn’t have a purpose.
Choosing to use a .MOBI domain isn’t a bad idea. Choosing to not use a .MOBI domain name for your mobile site isn’t a bad idea either, though.
If you want to create a mobile-specific version of your web site, you don’t have to have it set up under a .MOBI domain name.
You can simply set up a sub-domain such as “http://m.mydomain.com” to be the home of your mobile site.
In fact, this technique is quite prevalent on the Internet. There are a lot of mobile sites that don’t use a .MOBI domain name.
If you set up your mobile site under a domain other than .MOBI, you can still follow the same rules that are outlined for .MOBI domain names to make your site accessible to mobile users.
Mobile Site Options
.MOBI is an option (and not a requirement) for mobile sites.
Here are some ways that you can approach setting up a Mobile site:
Don’t set up a mobile site.
If you have tested your current web site in the most recent phone browsers, and everything is sufficient, you are probably ok. Many smart phones (iPhones, Android-based phones, etc.) have very capable web browsers that render web sites that haven’t been optimized for mobile phones quite well.
To determine if doing nothing is a good option for you, simply test your web site on multiple mobile phone platforms. If it looks okay and works okay, you can probably just leave it.
Create a mobile stylesheet for your site.
You can create an alternative stylesheet that loads on mobile phones. Most phones will recognize a mobile stylesheet.
You can use the mobile stylesheet to rearrange the information so that when a user visits your site on a mobile phone it’s presented in a way that better works on a mobile phone.
In doing this, you don’t need to create a completely separate mobile site. You are simply taking your same web site and presenting the information differently on a mobile device.
Create a separate mobile site.
This is where the .MOBI option comes into play. You can create a completely different version of your web site that is optimized for mobile phones and host it under a .MOBI domain or at another location such as http://m.mydomain.com.
The main disadvantage of this is that you will need to maintain two separate web sites. This is why this option is going to more than likely be the more time consuming option.
If you already have a mobile web site, and want to implement a .MOBI domain, you can simply register the .MOBI domain and forward it to your existing mobile site.
Anybody that looks at setting up a mobile web site will want to weigh the benefits of whether or not it’s worth it to use a .MOBI domain name. My opinion is that it is unnecessary, but there is really nothing wrong with it either.
Each web site is unique, with it’s own purpose. If you determine that a .MOBI domain makes sense for your online plans, go for it, but don’t feel like you need to have one to create a mobile version of your web site.