Websites looking for simpler way to establish a mobile web presence may consider mobilization services. These services automatically create a mobile version of a site by removing elements that commonly cause problems on mobile browsers. Some have had success using mobilization services to quickly launch a mobile optimized site. Legal technology commentator Dennis Kennedy recommended mobilization services in his ABA Journal column. Kennedy cites his own success converting his blog with MoFuse.com:
MoFuse.com gets a lot of mentions in this area, and my experience was great. You sign up for an account (one for blogs, and a premium one with extra features for businesses), enter information about your site, click a button or two and you have a mobile version.
Mobilization services are an attractive option for programs without a large budget or available web developer. These services can cost significantly less than hiring a developer and do not require much technical technology to be used effectively. That being said, there are some drawbacks.
Many mobilizations sites charge a service fee, usually monthly, for hosting and maintaining sites. In addition, mobilization usually works best for less complex sites or blogs. Managers of more robust sites may find the lack of customization frustrating.
Besides MoFuse, there are several other mobilization services available. Mashable.com lists some in its Guide to Mobile Web Design Tips and Tricks. Since the mobilization field is rapidly growing and changing, programs should be sure to research available options and find a solution that is best for their site.
Additionally, several organizations are currently working on creating a template for both the LawHelp and DLAW CMS that should be available for legal aid organzations around the country starting in 2012.
MLSA is working with the Northwest Justice Project, ProBono Net, and Colorado Legal Services on a TIG to create a mobile template for the Lawhelp platform, which will then be made available to all 27 organizations that use Lawhelp at no extra cost. PBN is doing the technological design and development side of the project while NJP, MLSA, and CLS are doing the content template development and testing side.
As the cost of owning smart phones becomes less and less expensive, this initiative aims at using mobile technology to significantly increase access to online information and services at the moment a legal need arises, regardless of where the user is located at the time. The mobile LawHelp site takes full advantage of a smart phone’s ability to deliver online content anywhere the end user has cell phone reception.
On ProBono Net’s end, development consists of two things: the core web application delivery and the content delivery (i.e. resources and organization from LawHelp). In the LawHelp CMS interface, admins will have the option to tag and configure content for display on the mobile version. The idea is that the mobile content will largely be modified versions of existing content on the LawHelp websites.
MLSA plans on releasing their mobile LawHelp site in the near future and will act as sort of a beta test for the rest of the organizations. These four organizations hope to have the template finalized and released sometime in 2012.