Mobile devices are becoming an increasingly popular way to surf the web. Is your website viewable on a mobile device such as a Blackberry, iPhone or iPad?
Many graphic designers have flash-based and image-heavy websites, which may not even load on certain mobile devices. In the coming years it will become increasingly important to be able to reach customers through the mobile web.
It’s time to start thinking about adapting your website for mobile access. Talk to your web developer about making your site more mobile friendly and take a look at some of the tips and resources below.
WC3′s Mobile Web Inititative
The WC3 has a mobile hub with tons of information about mobile requirements and best practices. Here is a summary of some ways to improve the mobile user’s experience:
- Put important information on the top left corner of a site. With smaller screen sizes and scrolling it’s helpful for users to see important information right away and not have to excessively scroll.
- Don’t rely on forms that require input from a keyboard. Many mobile devices have limited keyboards or touch screens that make it hard to fill out forms.
- Make URLs short so they are easy to input. Make page titles short so they’re easy to see.
- Mobile browsers may not have “back” buttons so it can be helpful to include “back” button navigation throughout your site.
- Mobile users have slower bandwidth, slower processors and less memory than computer users. Be sure your page loads quickly on these devices. Large images and complex code may not load on handheld devices. Also keep in mind that most users are paying high prices for internet access, so the quicker the page loads, the better.
- Mobile users go online for more specific purposes than PC users, who are typically just browsing. Mobile users will want to retrieve information or check an address, so make basic information easy to access.
- Make it easy to click on navigation links. If links are too small or too close together it will be difficult for mobile users to tap them.
- Pop-up windows, tables and scripting are all no-nos for mobile browsing. They will not work properly on handheld devices.
- Provide text alternatives for all images as they may not load quickly enough, if at all.
Helpful article on mobile-izing your website
A recent July article on Opera Developer Community’s website lays out the options for making existing websites mobile friendly. The article says there are three main options:
1) update the current site to be more mobile-friendly;
2) create a separate site with a different extension, such as “m.yourwebsite.com” just for mobile users;
3) build a mobile-aware adaptive site that recognize different mobile devices and gears content to the device. (This is the most complicated option.)
Examples of well-designed mobile sites
An article on Practicalecoommerce.com shows four examples of mobile commerce sites, and explains how the sites are optimal for mobile use. Another article on Mashable.com shows six more mobile sites with really user-friendly designs.