We've mentioned quite a bit about mobile websites during the last few months, but we realized we never dug into the difference between the use of "m.jeweler.com" and "jeweler.mobi," so let's cover that topic today.
For our purposes, please replace the expression 'jeweler' with whatever your domain name is.
Back in 2005 the popular cell phone hardware and software companies supported a push to establish a new top level domain called dotMobi. The "mobi" is short for "mobile." Since cell phone speeds were also very slow back then something needed to be done to accommodate the growing trend of web browsing via cell phones.
It was hoped that the ".mobi" extension would tell users that the website was safe to browse on their cell phone, and it would be fast. In fact, if you registered a .mobi domain you had to sign a guarantee that the website you intended to create would in fact be a text only website usable on the technology of the day.
At the time Windows Mobile and BlackBerry phones were still very popular. Arguably the iPhone revolutionized the cell phone industry, but at the time it was still 2 years away. Those of us using cell phones to navigate the internet were faced with huge frustrations since graphics simply didn't work well, and that's why a text based mobile website needed to be created.
Few people were willing to pay for cell phone internet service back in 2005. Data plans were pretty expensive, and it wasn't very user friendly. Not many companies adopted the .mobi extension or the understanding that they should create text only websites to help cell phone visitors.
It seems like the .mobi domain extension never really became popular. Perhaps it was because of the lack of widespread adoption by website owners who didn't want to spend the money to register another domain name. Little did they know that the cell phone carriers give special treatment to the .mobi domains... their loss.
Because the dotMobi domain name was more expensive to register, many companies decided to use the sub-domain name Mdot, or m.
There's no extra cost involved with adding an extra DNS setting to create m.jewelrystore.com like there is for jewelrystore.mobi. Just ask your website company to set it up for you.
Now that we have smartphones with the ability to pinch-zoom on graphical websites the need for text only mobile sites seems silly. But honestly, those mobile friendly websites are even more important today because many people are navigating their smartphones using the edge of their thumb.
For the smartphone user, they won't really care what type of mobile domain name you have, just as long as they can easily find it while they're using their smartphone. We suggest a very large link that's easy to see. We don't suggest redirecting the mobile user directly to the mobile website because they might actually want to navigate your regular site.
We've never seen a mobile website that included all the functionality of a full size site. Very few come close, but the idea of mobile is to provide only what the user will need when they're out and about. Mobile users who need access to your full site will take the extra time to navigate through using the pinch-zoom feature on their smartphone. They surely will get frustrated if you keep directing them back to your mobile website.
So which do we recommend m. or .mobi?
It depends on the length of the domain name and how closely you want to manage your branding. We'd prefer to see you using a short domain name possible. Most of you probably registered the jewelry store's name as your domain name, i.e. DiamondStoreJewelers.com which is 24 characters. In that case it's much better to try for DSJ.mobi since that's much shorter to type into a smartphone.