I’m in Toronto kicking off a new client project. Last night I had to walk the last few blocks to my hotel due to a subway shutdown that had snarled traffic. As I lugged my luggage, I saw a small sign on a store front, saying “Internet, Second Floor.”
I love that sign! Looking for the Internet? Second floor, please. I tweeted last night, “I always wondered where they kept it!”.
The truth is, you no longer have to go to the second floor to access the Internet. It’s everywhere. Back in the day, you could go online via your home or work computers, maybe an Internet cafe (which is what this sign was most likely referring to), and that was it. You had to go somewhere else to go online. Now, Internet access tends to be where you are.
The current trend with Internet ubiquity is to connect small devices to the online world so that people can access information and services while on the move: smartphones and netbooks being the primary examples today.
This raises the question for web strategists: how can we provide value to people on the move via a tiny screen and still relatively low bandwidth?
In considering serving your own users online via the ubiquitous Internet, think of what few things your audiences would want to do with you while on the move and focus on fulfilling those. Is it quickly looking up a key bit of data? Finding another user of your site? Updating their status?
The most effective strategies for mobile users are going to be those based on highly focused needs and serving them simply and elegantly via tiny screens.
I’ll have to back and snap a picture of that sign with my cell and post it online before I head home. Via the ubiquitous Internet.
Update: No need to go back, here is the sign courtesy of Google Maps Streetview.
That is just too cool.