UI12: Mobile Web Design

by Luke Wroblewski November 7, 2007

Cameron Moll’s Mobile Web Design talk at User Interface 12 in Boston outlined the state of the mobile market and what Web designers and developers could do to address this growing opportunity.

State of the Mobile Web

  • Within 30 years there are 2.7 billion mobile phones users. 15-20% of phone users have more than one phone.
  • By 2010, we will have 4 billion using mobile phones. More than 50% of planet.
  • India is the fastest growing market. More people in China with mobile phones than total people in the US.
  • Mobile Web: accessing Web content on a mobile device
  • 52% of people are unsatisfied with mobile Web access.
  • Weather Channel has more mobile phone users than desktop users.

Mobile Web Design

  • Mobile refers to the user, not the device or application. Creator of mobile content needs to consider the context of a user.
  • Mobile design is the discipline of communicating in an environment of mobility.
  • Context is King: circumstances or conditions that surround a person, place or thing. Content is of little value if does not address context of where you are.
  • Example: Kayak mobile solution assumes when you are using a mobile -you need a flight quickly. Results you get back are for flights in the next 24 hours. Provides a phone number to make a call- no sign in or buying on the phone.
  • Sell the mobile Web as how it is different from desktop apps not how it is similar.
  • Confront limitations of mobile and exploit its potential: precisely target mobile user needs with technology.

Mobile Web Solutions

  1. Do nothing to your site, wait until mobile Web gets better
  2. Reduce image use and adjust your styling: don’t waste time on this
  3. Use handheld styles sheets: concept is great but not well supported by devices. 30-40% of devices don’t recognize handheld stylesheets. Many will still download the rest of the page.
  4. Mobile-optimized content. Other methods ignore context (people on the go).
  • Option 1 and 4 might be the best approaches right now.
  • Forget WML, focus on XHTML. Nearly every phone on market supports it.
  • Mobile content probably will not render right across all mobile devices. Test with a real mobile device. Only need 5-10 devices that differ enough from each other.