By: David Roberts – Bayshore Solutions Development Team
Mobile devices are redefining the way we use the internet. Today, nearly 10% of all website traffic comes from a smartphone or tablet. A recent report by Cisco predicts that mobile data traffic will grow by a factor of 26 by 2015. However, most websites are not ideally viewed on a smartphone, and some might not even function correctly. Creating a mobile site is a great way to satisfy the limitations of a mobile device and deliver an engaging online experience.
Mobile website development offers new and exciting challenges. Proper planning is a crucial step towards creating a user-friendly and successful mobile site. Here are a few recommendations to consider before diving into your first mobile website project:
- Know Your Devices – There are many mobile devices on the market right now and even more web browsers. Making sure your website is supported by all of them is not a simple task. Rather, focus on supporting the major mobile browsers for devices such as the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry smartphones.
- Pick the Right Technology – HTML5 was designed with smartphones in mind and most mobile browsers are HTML5 compatible. It offers much more functionality than HTML4 and can render content that previously would have required a Flash plug-in. JQuery Mobile and CSS3 are also great tools to help you make your mobile site look and behave stylishly.
- Keep it Small – Mobile websites should be able to load much quicker than a non-mobile site. Keep image sizes small, content minimal and optimize for viewing on a mobile device. Only allow vertical scrolling and keep forms simple. Mobile sites should have more reduced functionality than a non-mobile site, but offer the same service.
- Beware of Redirects – Detecting a mobile device and automatically redirecting to a mobile page can be useful, but also detrimental if not implemented correctly. Make sure that mobile users can switch back and forth between the mobile and traditional versions of your website. Also make sure that redirects are set up correctly so that mobile users can access a subpage (for instance a link in a Google search) and not always be sent back to the mobile homepage.
Maintaining a strong mobile web presence is a great way to keep your website relevant as more and more people are going online without their desktops and laptops. Before developing your mobile website, be sure to plan ahead and address some of the items mentioned here. In just a few short years, mobile devices will overtake desktops as the primary internet browsing platform and by supplementing your traditional website with a mobile version you will be staying ahead of the curve.