Online gaming site Bet365 has starting using HTML5 to build a rich user experience on its website, previously only possible using plug-ins such as Adobe Flash.
Alan Reed, head of systems development at Bet365.com, said: “We had previously concentrated on the desktop to create a rich experience, using Flash.”
But Flash is mainly used on desktop PCs and is unable to run on iOS. “The barrier in mobile was that devices lacked Flash support. HTML5 can give us a low-cost solution,” he added.
Using Flash, Bet365 had to develop multiple sites to support users on different browsers, including IE6, IE10, Chrome and a WAP site. He said Bet365 also developed separate sites for smartphones and tablets, to maximise screen estate based on these devices.
“We needed to look at a graceful degrade of performance based on the access device," he said. "HTML 5 is extensible. It allows us to create a site using CSS3 to adapt to the capabilities of the device. Web pages can be served in a much easier way to tailor to customer experience.”
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Given its international reach, Reed said Bet365 first had to wait for HTML5 to be adopted by its customers: “Some territories are not as advanced. We did not jump into HTML 5, we waited for customers to be ready and we aligned strategy to provide the same rich user interface on mobile and desktop.”
All the Bet365.com sites are developed in-house. Reed said the company has a lot of developers using HTML5 to add functionality to specific areas of the website, such as embedding video and audio. “This allows us to cross-train with minimum disruption and enables Bet365.com to target our use of HTML5,” he said.
Combination of mobile channels
Bet365.com has developed an iOS app, available in the Apple AppStore. Reed said the app builds brand loyalty and supports additional functionality such as messaging.
“With the app, you don't have to worry about re-authentication and session problems,” he said.
Reed said the app has helped the company attract new customers: “We have done very well in the AppStore. It’s a different channel and has not been detrimental to the website.
“As far as we can tell, there will be room for both apps and browser-based experiences in the future. But it is possible that as more websites offer a rich experience via a mobile browser that this will become the mobile channel of choice.”