Brian Fling’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Mobile Web talk at SxSW2007 touched on a broad range of considerations when designing for the Mobile Web including strategy, information architecture, development, standards, publishing and more.
What is the Mobile Web?
- Web-based content and actions you can retrieve or utilize on a mobile device
- About 1/3rd of the planet are mobile subscribers
- About 1/5th of planet has mobile Web access
- By 2010, 50% of world’s population will be mobile subscribers
- 60% of mobile users grab Web content at least once per month. Less than desktop users.
- Mobile will revolutionize the way everyone gathers information
- Location-based services: ability of mobile to bring information to you that’s relevant based on where you are. This contextualizes the entire Web.
Creating a Mobile Web Strategy
- “Find a need and fill it.” Put the solution in front of the actual problem.
- Business, Technical, and User goals need to be balanced. Find the sweet spot between all three.
- Cost, Content, Context are the 3 C’s of the mobile Web. Loose anything that does not support these.
- Cost: develop your site responsibility to avoid high costs for consumers
- Content: what’s on your mobile web site
- Context: what does your content add to a user’s mobility?
Mobile Information Architecture:
- Avoid redundancies, vague labels: limit categories to 5, limit links to 10, no more than 5 levels deep, etc.
- Clickstream: diagramming out what the sequence of events will be. Need to present this to Mobile Service Provider if you want to be part of their portal experience.
Mobile Web Design
- Find the right spot between most compatible and richer experiences (that some phones enable).
- Screen Size: lots of variations depending on phone type: feature phones, smart phones, PDAs, etc.
- Recommended max size: 200x250 pixels
- Feature phones have the largest adoption. Need to primarily design for them as they are mass-market phones.
- Orientation: think vertically when designing.
Understanding Mobile Web Standards
- XHTML-MP. Subset of XHTML basic is part of WAP 2.0
- Old WAP was complicated but the new one is based Web standards. It is essentially XHTML. Currently the predominant language of the Mobile Web.
- Wireless CSS supports most of the basic CSS properties. Keep it simple and focused on content.
- W3C initiatives: mobile Web best practices document. Do not manage the standards but provide suggestions.
- Need correct encoding and well-formed code.
- Use ordered lists (OL) for navigation: allows you to use access keys as primary navigation.
- Use document styles, not external style sheets. If put all styles are in the top of your document, they will load with content quicker.
- Put navigation in the content body.
- Forms are tricky. Have to explain what content can be entered. Keep them to a minimum.
- 500 different devices sold per year, 50 different browsers.
- Focus on 5 devices: most are derivatives of others.
- Options: force user to enter a mobile URL, detect mobile device and send over to mobile site, short code & WAP-push.
- Can test with online tools and emulators.
- Device Anywhere (deviceanywhere.com) –can remote control multiple devices.