Using past practices for mobile web development
The online world is constantly changing and this demands to continuously adapt and develop our skills to keep abreast of the latest trends. In the last few years, one of the biggest areas of change on the Internet has been the amount of users who are now accessing the web on mobile devices. Designing sites for mobile devices requires a strategic approach which is arguably looking back a number of years at how we might have developed for desktop devices in the past.
A mobile website should concentrate on the most important content. Because of the lack of screen space and the slower Internet connections on mobile devices, it is important for visitors to have quick and easy access to the most relevant and necessary information. At a time when most websites are now overflowing with content, the simplicity of the mobile website can be quite refreshing. Also, moving back towards a larger font style enhances readability, and larger buttons are easier to hit with your fingers.
The variety of screen sizes
One of the most important factors when we design a mobile web solution is the screen size. Although we are already used to catering for varying desktop screen sizes, the challenge is even greater when it comes to mobile designs. In the past 8-10 years desktop screens have become larger and larger and this was reflected in the way we design websites – going from 800×600 to 1024×768 and now to 1200×900 and beyond in some instances. In the last couple of years however, mobile devices have become more and more popular for web browsing so we’re facing the opposite challenge.
Studies show that 240 x 320 (aka QVGA) should be standard for mobile development but Many newer cell phones and smart phones have larger and tighter pixel resolutions screens with the iPhone 4 for example being 960×640, with the smaller resolutions becoming outdated as time passes.
For desktop websites, high-speed Internet connections have become the norm in recent years, and we have been able to take more liberties with pictures and video. But when it comes to mobile design, the damage of the excessive use of images is often more than the benefits. Additionally, the size of the screen makes images hard to see and the content harder to read. For these reasons it is very common to see minimal use of images in mobile web designs. The advantage of a smartphone with a touch screen is that images are of better quality, and so allows the user to tap, swipe and zoom on a picture which leads to better and more engaging experience.
So if we are looking back at the lessons and methods of how we once produced desktop sites years ago, it will be interesting to see how this platform develops and whether it will, at some stage, converge with current desktop practices.