What were once known as “Cellphones” have come a long way in the last few years, and now we are in the midst of a “Mobile Device” or “Handset” revolution. Since the iPhone came out in 2007, phone manufacturers have been forced to step up their game and take things to the next level. When you add in new offerings in the form of Google’s Android, Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 and the Palm’s WebOS we finally have plenty of good mobile OS options, and the consumer is benefiting from competition with more features and lower prices (if only the service providers would follow suit). If you don’t already have a smart phone, chances are that you are planning to get one when your contract is up. For those of us in the industry, this is the transition to the time where the mobile website will not be just an afterthought, but in some cases may be even more mission critical than the traditional web site. This brings up a whole new set of challenges and concerns for the strategy and planning of a web presence.
Fundamental Questions that Should Be Asked Before You Invest in a Mobile Web Site
Technical Parameters and Limitations to Consider
Making it Happen
After all of the planning and wire framing is done, you’ll be ready to build your site. There are a few things to keep in mind while building the site, most of these considerations are speed related, this should be a consideration when building any website but I believe that mobile sites are especially fragile in this sense. Without getting too technical, there are a few techniques that can improve the speed of your site without changing it. These techniques include minification, compression, combining images into sprites and they are all talked about in the W3CMobile Web Application Best Practices.
The testing variables are immense with mobile sites, this is one reason that i prefer simple designs and functionality. There are thousands of phones and so many browsers that need to be tested for their own individual bugs and quirks. Unless you have a test lab with all of these phones, you’ll probably be limited to testing a few major players and rely on emulation for the rest. There are a few tools that can help with testing, Microsoft offers a SDK for .Net Mobile, in this kit there are Windows Mobile Phone Simulators that can be setup and used for testing your website. Like Microsoft, Google offers an SDK for Android that provides you with a phone simulator. If you don’t want to setup a project or you’re just looking for a quick reference, there are some free virtual mobile browsers out on the internet. Opera offers the Opera Mini Simulator, I think this is probably the fastest way to get a quick look at a site in a mobile browser. TestiPhone.com has an iPhone Simulator, but it really does not compare to the iPhone simulator that comes with the iPhone SDK from Apple.
Mobile websites are becoming a more important part of medium and large business web presence, help improve your customers satisfaction by increasing their access to the information they want.