Better ‘Click to call’ using redirects

A lot of mobile sites with click-to-call advertising or services require 3 clicks for click to call – first you click on the ‘click to call’ link then a new page loads often with a confirmation message e.g. ‘Click the link below to call Acme!’, after that the phone itself will ask for confirmation you really want to dial a number – that’s 2 clicks too many.

What’s happening is that the first click is registering the click through with the ad server/tracking engine, so that commission can be charged or whatever charging mechanism is in use.  You can’t easily do that on a a “tel:” URL because the mobile intercepts the click and dials the number (the server never knows about it).  To the end user its annoying – “Why didn’t the first click just connect me?”

Luckily there a ‘trick’ to get rid of one of the clicks.

It works like this:

The click to call link should hit the server e.g. be a http link, this should register the click with the tracking engine.  The server should send back a HTTP response 302 – a redirect.  The redirected URL should be the “tel:” link.  To the user there is a slight pause while the server is contacted, then their phone will prompt them to allow the call.  3 clicks have been reduced to 2.  That leave one click to obey the ‘3 clicks to anything’ rule aspired to by mobile UI designers everywhere.


7 Responses to “Better ‘Click to call’ using redirects”

  1. artur Says:

    Its actually a good try, but i’m testing that in a wide range of devices and emulator and always got errors.
    So, maybe it works, but just in few mobile devices…
    Am i right?

  2. mob rule Says:

    It has worked for me on modern GSM oriented phones e.g. Nokia S40/S60, Sony Ericcson, Windows Mobile. Which phones caused you problems?

  3. kirk.b Says:

    That’s pretty slick. I’ve seen my Samsung A707 (Sync) popup a prompt whenever the browser gets a 302-Redirect, but that’s the only phone I’ve seen such behavior. However, how many wap browsers support “tel:”? WTAI seems to be supported by many, so maybe redirecting to “wtai://wp/mc…” would work too. Good ideas! Keep them coming.

  4. mob rule Says:

    You’re right Kirk there are at least 2 ways to make phone URLs (there’s also callto:// used by Skype). You can use device detection from or to send the right URL.

  5. gshavit Says:

    As far as I know, browsers are not required to support 301/302 that redirect to a non-HTTP URL. In fact, a lot of older phones don’t. That’s why so many sites have this 3-click behavior, which we all agree is less than ideal.

    It’s quite possible that many newer phones do support this kind of redirect.

  6. Bokonon Says:

    I had this same idea and just tried it with Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. It works on neither. Too bad for all of us.

  7. Gonzalo Says:

    Actually for the devices that redirect doesn’t work (basically any device that uses a browser like Firefox, IE or Safari) you can use Ajax to issue a parallel request to notify the server at the same time the call is made by the device

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