March 11, 2008

The mobile domain jungle

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås.Filed under Blog | Be the First to Comment

A question we often get from our customers and other is “what domain name should we use for our mobile portal? And what is this dotmobil thing? Should we buy one?”. (Three questions actually, but same topic…) Not one simple answer to that, but there are actually some rules and best practices in this area.

Let’s just get started with some examples.

Let’s say your domain is example.com where you have your web portal. Some years ago, in the wap-hype, when you built your first portal for handheld devices you put it behind wap.example.com. And now, “wap is dead” everyone says, “dotmobi is the thing!”

Well here is the general rules that apply.

Subdomains

For your example.com domain you should create the following sub domains that points directly to the mobile experience.

wap.example.com is of course for legacy reasons. The others have emerged as the second generation of mobile portals came around. Lately iphone.example.com has popped up with the launch of iPhone.

Separate domain for the mobile portal

CNN have done it. Their mobile portal is available at http://cnnmobile.com/. Not a common way to do it, but useful if you want to brand your mobile portal separately. The drawback with this solution is that is not as easy for machines, such as robots and crawlers, to determine whether the portal is a mobile portal or a desktop portal.

.mobi domain

It is not long ago the .mobi domain came around. Should your business buy example.mobi ? Well, you decide. You don’t have to, but if you have a .com domain or a unique .no domain, we would recommend it.

The nice thing with .mobi domains is that mtld, who manages it, make demands on how dotmobi domains are used. The short story is that all portals behind a .mobi domain MUST be optimized for hand held devices. For example, if you buy example.mobi for your portal, both example.mobi and www.example.mobi must put the user directly on to the mobile site. If you want to access the desktop portal on a .mobi domain it is common to place that under a sub domain: pc.example.mobi. Another good rule is: “Domains that operate a site at www.example.mobi must also implement a site at example.mobi” All for accessibility! You can read more here.

Generic domains

On generic domains such as www.example.com or example.com, it is definitely a smart thing to handle all requests with care. In most mobile phones today, when you want to type in a url for a site, “www.” is pre entered. In most cases entering an address starting with www will lead you to a dekstop site, hence unusable on the mobile phone. So, what you want to do, in order to provide the best possible user experience, is to check whether the device is a mobile or a desktop device and do an intelligent redirection to the portal that provides the best user experience. Mobiletech has developed such a tool. Its called a request dispatcher. You can read more about it here. The earlier mentioned cnnmobile.com has such a dispatcher enabling a different presentation of the content for mobiles and desktops. (And of course mobiletech.no has one as well.)

Wrapping up…

Your mobile portal needs these host names at least:

You might want to consider a .mobi domain as well. Don’t worry about the strict requirements, Dextella is compatible! Same goes for a separate “mobile domain” regardless of tld.

If you’re really serious about mobile, implement the Dextella Request Dispatcher as well. Gives you and your users great value.

About the Author Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Other posts written by Jon Arne Sæterås (40 posts)

@jonarnes

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