I have been watching the mobile space carefully the last few months, so as candidates have announced their interest in running for President  I’ve paid close attention to their mobile strategies.   So far, there really hasn’t been much to see as far as I can tell.

Enter Barack Obama, who announced his candidacy for President and launched version one of his campaign website yesterday. Obama’s new website is purposefully spartan, focusing exclusively on building his email list, Facebook fan page and campaign war chest.   I have no doubt Team Obama will be rolling out a robust new toolset for the website in the coming weeks and months.  Based on this early version of the site, it is clear mobile is going to be a big part of the 2012 strategy.

If you visit www.barackobama.com on a mobile phone or iPad you are automatically taken to a version of his site optimized for mobile use.  You can access the site directly from your browser at www.barackobama.com/m.

Beyond simply working well on a phone, a number of other steps have been taken to make the site mobile-friendly:

  • In an effort to make it easy for folks to give and get involved, the Donation and Volunteer forms have been optimized to fill out on a mobile device.
  • On the main website the campaign encourages people to sign up via email and Facebook.  On the mobile site you are encouraged to sign up for text message updates instead.
  • The Events area of the mobile site automatically detects your location and serves up events near you.  Note this was a bit buggy for me as the site had trouble detecting my location initially.

While this may not seem terribly groundbreaking, I think it is really smart of the Obama campaign to create an optimized mobile experience for users this time around (I don’t believe they had a mobile site in 2008 but could be wrong on that).  The mobile web is exploding, and I would guess that by the end of 2011 over 10% of visitors to www.barackobama.com will come from mobile users.   Further, the way people use the web on their mobile phones is fundamentally different than the way they browse from a desktop.  You can’t just send users to your regular website and expect to see the kind of conversation rates and stickiness you see for regular desktop users.

Optimizing for mobile is just good strategy at this point.

Screenshots from the mobile site below.

Update: One small criticism.  If you access the site on an iPad, you are taken to the mobile site and there is no obvious link to skip to the main site.  Given how robust the browsing experience is on an iPad, I would direct iPad users to the main site or give them a way to get to it at the very minimum.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.