Building a mobile website
I decided to interview my self on building a website optimised for mobile devices…
What are the current trends in mobile websites?
Less is more: Due to the fact that users on mobile devices usually don’t have the time to sit and surf a mobile website in it’s entirety it is imperative that you get your message across as quickly as possible. It also applies to the way the site is built, the 3g network may be the fastest mobile internet available but it is still considerably slower than the basic ADSL or CABLE connection you have at home or your office, therefore you need to keep the amount of information being pulled from the server to a minimum.
Simple Options: In an ever increasing world of bloated websites the idea of “cutting down” your sites content to be “mobile friendly” seems to be a breath of fresh air, as usually only the latest updates or the most relevant information is displayed on mobile sites.
Testing 1,2,3: There are 100’s of phones and mobile devices in the world today that are capable of accessing the internet. This becomes a major problem as you probably won’t be able to get your hands on every device to test your site on. There are a number of web tools out there to help you test your sites on mobile devices, Apple have an iPhone simulator and Opera have a mobile or “Small Screen” option.
Up-to-date: Mobile websites should be kept as up-to-date as regular websites, the trend at the moment seems to be that mobile website should be updated every 3 to 6 months.
What do we think the trends will be?
I believe that services like, stock market, banking, online shopping, online directory assistance styled mobile site will become more widely used in the future. Social media sites have turned your mobile device into an instant updater, you can update your Twitter status, send your friend a message on Facebook, or listen to you Friends latest song on myspace wherever you are.
What types of companies should be considering mobile more than others?
Well definitely any company that has information that needs to be seen on a regular basis should invest in mobile web.
What are the key things to consider when building a mobile website?
Automatically send mobile users to a dedicated “mobile” version of your website: Using simple PHP commands you can automatically redirect mobile users that arrive at your desktop site to the mobile-friendly version of your website you are designing.
Use valid mobile markup: XHTML Basic and XHTML Mobile Profile are two commonly-used mobile- specific markup languages for mobile web sites. These are good choices by default. Like any markup standard, they require particular syntax and allow a certain vocabulary of tags which is different from what HTML allows. For example, markup tags must be closed, <font> tags are not allowed unlike in HTML, and frames can’t be used. Following these standards will ensure that a wide array of mobile devices can parse and render your page as you intended.
Validate your markup: Validate that your page conforms to the markup standard you have chosen using an XML validator, or online tools like http://validator.w3.org.
Further, try using mobile-specific validators like http://ready.mobi/, which goes beyond simple validation identifies areas where your page design departs from generally accepted practices, estimates download times and cost, and more.
Use a linear layout: Minimize left/right navigation, which is difficult on a phone, and
instead arrange your content in a single column layout.
Minimize use of tables: If you do need to incorporate them, use no more than 2 columns, and avoid row and column merging.
Keep page sizes small; less than 10KB if possible: Mobile pages typically take longer to load due to slower network speeds, and mobile devices typically do not have much memory. Minimize use of images where possible.
Make sure that all pages are linked to other pages: It’s difficult to get around on a mobile phone, try not to make it harder by forcing users to hit the back button to escape dead ends.
Use Google Sitemaps to post information about the structure of your website: It is harder for search engines to discover sites on the mobile web. You can speed up the process by proactively informing Google of the pages on your site that need to be indexed.