Betfair has had a mobile version of its website since 2006, and according to its Twitter account, has taken over 6m bets from mobile users.

With the popularity of online betting, it seems especially well suited for people out at sports events who want to place bets.

Betfair launched an iPhone optimised version of its site in December, and has recently updated it. I’ve been seeing how well it works…

First of all, users searching for Betfair on the iPhone’s Safari browser are automatically diverted to the iPhone site, something which represents best practice for mobile websites, as it makes it much easier for users to access the most appropriate version, and therefore makes it more likely that they can place a bet.

Betfair on iPhone home screen

Since it offers a good range of sports and betting options, the desktop version of is a busy site, so adding a lot of this functionality to a small screen device and keeping it easy to use is a challenge.

Betfair has not added any graphics or pictures to the site, sticking with a simple, stripped down layout which is much more usable on a small mobile screen, as well as being faster to load.

It will work much better if you have already registered with Betfair on the standard website though. While you can register for a new account on the iPhone site, the registration page is the desktop version, making it a complicated and not very user-friendly process with a lot of fields to fill in and therefore much zooming in and out to be done.

Betfair offers markets on a lot of sports on the standard site, at least 30, and rather than just providing a selection of the most popular ones to keep it simple, it allows mobile users to bet on anything from Aussie Rules football to martial arts.

However, this amount of choice can make it harder to find the betting market you want. I searched for the England World Cup qualifier on Wednesday to place a bet, and the labelling of menu options left a bit to be desired.

After selecting ‘popular sports’ from the homepage, then ‘soccer’ (grrr) I had a huge list with more than 40 options before reaching ‘World Cup’, which was right at the bottom. From then, I have to select two further options before trying to remember which qualifying group England are in, which I couldn’t. 

There was a further option to search according to fixture date, but this had a similarly large menu:

From here, I did reach the England match, but with a simpler menu layout and better labelling and grouping, this would have been much easier. Why not have separate links for the most popular betting markets, like England matches, televised Premier League games, and events like the Grand National?

On a slow mobile connection, having so many menu options to trawl through could become very frustrating for users.

Betfair betting page

Once you get to the page, it is much better. For the England v Ukraine match above, there are plenty of options for different bets, and while it doesn’t display as much detail as the standard website, it is good enough:

Betfair England v Ukraine

Most importantly, bets are easy to place once you have logged in, and once you have selected your odds, it is simply a case of entering the amount you want to bet and confirming it.

Betfair place bet screen

Betfair has produced a very good site here that has been made easy to use on the iPhone. A Bango survey, which we blogged about yesterday, said that the iPhone didn’t make the top 20 phones for mobile commerce. This is something which could easily change when more companies produce sites like this, which are optimised for mobile commerce.

For UK mobile users, unless you want to buy from a standard web version of a website on your mobile (which is tricky), your options are limited to companies that have produced decent mobile or iPhone sites; eBay, Amazon and Interflora, which we reviewed last week (if there are others, let me know below).

I think the user experience could be improved with better navigation, or a search box to help users find the event they want to bet on more quickly. Aside from these issues though, Betfair is a good example of an iPhone optimised site.