Government agencies are going mobile and learning their share of lessons. Scott Orr, mobile content editor at the State Department, has been guiding the department’s mobile website since launching it more than a year ago. And as its worldwide traffic continues to grow, he has gained a number of insights.

“Launching a mobile website is no different than launching a desktop site, it’s all about planning and developing the kind of site that is appropriate for your content and your audience,” Orr says.

All the same, he has these recommendations:

1. Examine your mission and decide how it can be enhanced by reaching out to mobile users. Virtually everything you’re presenting to the public via your desktop website can and should be offered on the mobile web. If you have specialized data sets, or other content that lends itself to richer mobile presentation, perhaps an app is in your future.

2. Decide where to host For mobile web, decide if you want to code the site yourself and host it on your own servers or use a third party vendor. The State Department chose to use a third party vendor, which has a number of advantages. Most importantly, it ensures that the content renders perfectly across all mobile platforms and devices.

3. Decide how you want to populate you site. For the most part, RSS is king of the mobile world because it allows you to send content to your site effortlessly and to update and change content in real time. You can, of course, write static content directly to the site, but when it comes to flexibility, RSS is best.

4.Decide what you want your content to look like. Most mobile websites are organized with very simple designs since you don’t have a lot of space to work with. For articles, it’s usually best to go with landing pages that feature thumbnail pictures, one sentence summaries and short headlines that click through to the full text of the article.

5. Decide how you are going to promote your site. Google ads for mobile are much less expensive than ads for the desktop web, so consider that as an option. Also, once you’re up and running, scour the analytics to find out what content is attracting the most attention and make more of it.