Designing and Building a Mobile Website

As of this writing, there are 2.4 billion mobile phone users worldwide. Amazingly, a thousand more people pick up a mobile phone every minute! Of those users, about 30 percent have used their mobile phones to browse the Internet. That’s more than 700 million mobile phone Internet users and counting! Add in the growing popularity of Mobile broadband internet, and it’s obvious that mobile web browsing will soon be the world’s most prominent Internet platform. Any company that relies on the Internet would be foolish not to take advantage of this growing market.

mobile-website

(Courtesy of Flickr User: Wesley Fryer)

It’s now commonplace for consumer-driven companies to equip themselves with mobile websites. Indeed, in the future, having the mobile website will likely be a necessity. Some experts even believe mobile browsing will become the new Internet standard. Unfortunately, many websites still do not load properly on mobile phones. There are special procedures involved in constructing a mobile website, and special limitations of Mobile broadband which must be considered.

Clearly, the website design used for computer browsers is generally not compatible with mobile browsers. Sites that work well on mobile phones follow the accessibility guidelines set by the W3C. Mobile phones use a technology called WAP for web browsing; because the WAP has screen size and download limitations, designs must be stripped down to function.

When modifying an existing Internet site to make it mobile compatible, consider the page layout. Sites that use tables for the main layout will not work well on mobile phones; instead, it is necessary to use CSS for maximum compatibility. Sites should be coded with XML or XHTML, using the UTF-8 character encoding setting. It is also important to note that different phones have different screen sizes, which can make it difficult to create a website that will work on all of them. Images on a mobile website should be in gif or jpeg format.

mobile-website

(Courtesy of Flickr User: : Kai Hendry)

A good mobile web design keeps in mind the limitations of mobile phones. Many mobile browsers lack back buttons, so the website should provide them. Likewise, entering text on a phone is difficult and time-consuming, so pages should not require the user to enter text. Scrolling can be difficult, so it is advisable to put the most important information at the top of the page. Above all, it is important to note that users pay fees to access mobile websites. Quality is thus crucial for customer satisfaction.

Instead of making their existing sites compatible with mobile phones, many companies choose to build separate mobile websites. Mobile sites can be built using WAP or WML forma. However, note that WML does not work with all Web hosts.

WML stands for Wireless Markup Language, a version of HTML streamlined for mobile websites. As with HTML, WML documents can be created in any reliable text editor, such as Notepad. Although WML is similar to HTML in many ways, there are enough differences to make switching from one to the other difficult. WML is also somewhat limited in terms of features and tags.

In WML, web pages are called cards, each of which can be seen on the mobile screen one at a time. It is vitally important to close all WML tags. A single open tag can render the entire page unreadable.

HTML can also be used to design a mobile Web site. Adobe Creative Suite 3 includes options that make this relatively easy, especially Adobe Device Central’s option to choose a target device. Since there are many mobile phones in use, the best policy is to create a clean, simple design.

mobile-website

(Courtesy of Flickr User: Marjan Krebelj)

Because the principles of mobile web design are different from conventional design, many companies opt to hire a firm that specializes in mobile design. Regardless, it is clear that building a mobile compatible website can bring in plenty of extra business. Any company that relies on the Internet should consider doing so right away.

This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find internet service providers in your area and compare prices on different deals for your mobile broadband needs.

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