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Customer Spotlight: Take Your Website Mobile With Mobify

This is a guest post written and contributed by Peter McLachlan, Chief Architect and Co-Founder at Mobify, a Rackspace customer that is focused on building an open platform to mobify the web.

With 138 million smartphones in the US alone, people are increasingly using mobile phones and tablets to manage bank accounts, read the news and book travel. Businesses are finding that they need to adapt their websites to smaller-screened electronic devices to realize the benefits of the mobile marketplace and stay competitive.

That’s where Mobify comes in.

In 2007, Igor Faletski, John Boxall and myself started Mobify as college students while waiting at a bus stop and wondering – why can’t we get the transit schedule on our phones so we don’t have to wait?

What we found was that many brick-and-mortar businesses (like the transit company) had not yet taken advantage of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets as a platform to connect consumers with information. We also noticed that retailers with an online presence were slow to rethink the user experience for mobile shoppers.

What was missing was the optimized experience when using a mobile web browser. People were beginning to build custom apps for the iPhone, but there weren’t many websites that were compatible [with mobile devices].

In response, we launched Mobify to adapt existing websites to mobile technologies – like tablets, smartphones and smart TVs – helping consumers access those sites from any device.

The Mobify platform, which uses a technique known as adaptive web design, works by allowing browsers to dynamically adjust so that a website’s content reflows correctly depending on the device being used. Our team of 60 people builds the technology platform that helps companies make their websites compatible without requiring them to do any of the work that involves changing the backend of those sites. Our professional services division provides training and full service builds for customers who have web teams that are new to mobile or need to get to market fast.

Mobify’s technology offers a unique advantage – we can make this adjustment without adding that pesky “m.” before the URL and without using complicated server-side techniques or SEO damaging proxy solutions. In fact, the same HTML is served to every visitor, just the way Google recommends, and back-end integration can be completed on any ecommerce or CMS platform in minutes. Mobify’s Performance Suite makes sure the experience the fast and engaging regardless of whether our customers are using our adaptive technology or have a responsive website they needed to accelerate such as Telus, a Mobify customer and one of the largest telecom companies in Canada.

In total, Mobify powers more than 20,000 websites for customers that include enterprise giants like Starbucks, British Telecom, Condé Nast, Toyota and Threadless.  Many of these businesses see at least a two-times growth in user engagement when optimizing for smartphone or tablet visitors using Mobify’s technology.

Although there’s still a gap between the mobile approach being adopted by enterprises and smaller companies, there’s a growing trend showing that businesses wanting to re-platform in the next few years will choose an adaptive or responsive approach.

The complexity of the device landscape is still growing; so we know that adaptive and responsive web design is the future of the web. Our customer success stories make it clear that consumers want an optimal online experience that provides easy reading, shopping, viewing and navigation.

Take e-retailer Beyond The Rack, which was missing conversions from customers who received sales alerts on their mobile devices. They approached Mobify to develop a mobile website that would support quick purchasing decisions, real-time inventory management and effortless end-to-end transaction capabilities.

Beyond The Rack saw a return on their investment with Mobify’s platform just 16 days after launch. Its mobile traffic doubled in three months, leading to a 90 percent increase in smartphone revenues and 73 percent increase in tablet revenues during that time period.

And then there’s The New Yorker, which saw its number of unique mobile views increase over 10 times after we optimized the website’s images, text and navigation style. Mobile users also began spending more time on the site, and load times were reduced by over seventy percent.

Another success story comes from online clothing retailer Threadless, which used Mobify to optimize its community, galleries, search and checkout features. Since SEO and social networking are crucial to online companies, we directed both mobile and desktop visitors to a single Threadless URL to preserve their Google search ranking.

So where does Rackspace fit in?

We migrated to Rackspace when it acquired Slicehost in May 2011. After evaluating our options in the cloud solutions market, we saw a lot of value in the Rackspace platform and set up shop on the Rackspace Cloud.

Rackspace’s open Cloud Servers provide us with the APIs and web management console that help us to create a smartphone adaptive layer for websites. Rackspace continues to be our choice for Virtual Private Server (VPS) platform because of the reliability of their infrastructure and the consistency of support that we receive from Rackers.

Right now we’re in a great position because we have a strong technical team at Mobify, so we seldom need support. We may not need to talk to a Racker all that often, but when we do, we need somebody who knows how to solve a challenging problem fast because it usually means that there’s something happening that we didn’t expect.

We use Rackspace because I know the Racker on the other end is an experienced server engineer who will know the answer to a challenging technical question. Since they know what they’re talking about, we don’t have to escalate the problem and we get answers quickly.

Rackspace’s Fanatical Support has been a critical differentiator for us, which in combination with the planned redundancy in our architecture, has helped us run a platform that has enjoyed 100 percent uptime since launch two and a half years ago.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Peter McLachlan.

Peter McLachlan is co-founder and the chief architect of Mobify, the open mobile platform that powers mobile experiences for top brands such as the Starbucks, Toyota, British Telecom and Expedia. He leads design, development and security for Mobify's software & systems. Peter holds an MSc in Computer Science from UBC where he studied visualization of large scale networking data. On sunny days he leads kettle-bell workouts on Mobify’s rooftop patio.


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