In the article it is spoken about Designing Websites for Mobiles. According to EMarketer, in the US, the number of people browsing the Internet via mobile phones will touch a whopping 134.3 million by 2013. Even Gartner predicts that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake personal computers as the most used device for accessing the web.
For website owners and developers this should trigger the need to design and develop a websites for mobiles to tap into the ever-increasing pool of mobile and smart phone customers.
Designing websites for mobiles is a specialized task. Developers must follow certain fundamental guidelines in the process. Some of the guidelines are:
Modify Existing Website
Mobile phones work on WAP technology. WAP imposes several restrictions on screen size, resolution and downloads. Thus, the first step in designing websites for mobile is to modify the existing or Internet website to suit mobile phones. You need to cut down current design and layout to make it compatible for mobiles.
Most web-enabled mobiles phones comprise of browsers that can run the standard XHTML markup language. You can also use XHTML-MP (MP refers to Mobile Profile) while designing websites for mobile which is not very different. XHTML-MP has fewer elements and tighter restrictions and simply makes it easier for the mobile phones to render the website. However, using the standard XHTML will just work fine.
Single Column Layouts
Usually most websites load in the zoom-out mode to fit the screen. Be it low-end mobile phones or smart phones, reading content requires the user to zoom in, which can be a little cumbersome. While designing websites for mobiles, it is ideal to use single column websites that not just fit the screen but also make the content visible without zooming in. While adding more content, it is better to add or expand downwards than adding it across. Mobile users prefer scrolling than scrolling across.
Minimize Text Usage
It has been observed that users are far slower and make more errors while typing on mobile phones. While designing websites for mobiles, always design registration or billing forms that can be saved and used time and again. Also, allow users to enter pin numbers that are shorter and easier than passwords. Also, offer radio buttons, check boxes and lists to your mobile users to make their browsing experience easy and convenient.
Put the most important information on top while designing websites for mobiles. It is difficult and time consuming to browse a website on mobile. Hence, do not hide critical content and make the users work hard.
Right Image Extensions
While using graphics or images on mobile websites, always have .GIF or .JPEG extensions.
Optimized for Touchscreen and Non-touchscreen
While designing websites for mobiles, use layouts and design elements that are suitable for all kinds of mobile phones. Do not have too many links placed close to each other. For touchscreen users, it is difficult to exactly click on the right link as fingertips can be too thick for it. It is better to use square or rectangular boxes especially for call to action, which are easier to tap into.
These guidelines will certainly help in making your website mobile-friendly. However, once the development is complete, thoroughly test it on different mobile devices before releasing it. This will tell you the exact grey areas and help to rectify them.