Convenience is certainly paramount in most of our lives. We go to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts before a local coffee shop because there is usually one within a half mile radius. Finding and searching for information is the same; we grab our smartphone or tablet before we grab our computer because, it is convenient. These devices are small mobile information trojans that assuredly connect us to the world wide web, from our pockets. Think about that fact. You have the vastness of almost 14.5 billion pages of information that are accessible by turning on a machine, mind you, that weighs less than a pound. Because of this modern idea of instant gratification inside a fast-paced society we are left with the fact that when it comes to effectively communicating your business online there must be a mobile strategy. This strategy should not venture too far from what your desktop site conveys, it’s the same user-experience customized for different media.
The next few points discuss a few standards when it comes to strategizing your mobile web experience. Most of these should be determined by your specific audience.
1. Content & Target Audience
You already know your target user for your desktop site. The same goes for any mobile site you would like to develop. When and where are your users interacting with your site? What device are they most commonly using? What is relevant to them on a mobile device? These types of questions will ultimately determine the best strategy to begin.
2. Display Size
Galvin develops for the lowest common denominator for desktop screen sizes. Statistically,as of January 2011 desktop users will be on a screen that is as large or larger than 1024px x 768px. For mobile devices screen sizes are much more diverse. Delivering the best possible experience to a mobile devices is to use CSS3 Media Queries. This way we can target different devices be it Android, RIM, Windows or Apple. This administration of specific styles to specific devices is a product of Responsive Web Design and works in most modern browsers.
On desktops you click, on mobile sites we tap, slide, flick and pinch. With all of these actions navigating around a site needs to be even more simple and intuitive. Prioritizing pages and arranging them based on this priority is key. A quote taken from product designer Luke Wroblewski – “Mobile Forces You To Focus.” This part of a recent article discusses how clients and developers need to decide what data is important and how to best present it to users.
4. Know Capabilities & Limitations
A list of Mobile Best Practices are documented by the W3C. By following these practices you can give a great experience while still giving your users what they need. (Capabilities change as devices change, so know your audience first.)
Capabilities (to name a few)
1. GPS Location
2. User Orientation (compass)
2. Specific User Input
3. HTML5 Video (when appropriate)
Limitations (to name a few)
1. Speed – Lessen time it takes to render extraneous graphics.
2. Scripting & Pluggins – Many mobile browsers don’t support browser pluggins.
In conclusion, the mobile web offers companies more opportunities to market their business. With 90% of the worlds population living in a place with mobile access it is more important than ever to be aware of your online market in the mobile space. Users expect their content fast and with a great experience.
A few links to check out:
50 Examples of great mobile sites
Netbiscuit’s 2011 Global Devise Metrics
Slide Presentation on Rethinking The Mobile Web