Mobile Website Design Mini-Course Volume II: How Mobile Is Different

OK. We established in the first of this mini-course on mobile website design that you have a grip on website design in general. Now we’re going to tell you the ways in which everything you know is wrong. See, mobile websites have some pretty radically different requirements and needs than desktop sites.

Bandwidth and Speed Limits
Many people on mobile devices are on limited-bandwidth plans, which means a huge website with a lot of queries in it will suck up their bandwidth and keep them from wanting to come back. Similarly, many mobile devices are noticeably slower than desktop devices, which can make surfing a headache. Both problems are solved the same way: by planning a mobile site to load using the minimum amount of queries and keeping large-bandwidth elements like videos and flash out.

Touch Me There
Mobile devices may or may not have a keyboard (most don’t), but exactly zero of them have a mouse. Instead, a mobile device needs to be built with a touchscreen in mind. The differences are minor, but significant. For example, you can’t build a page that has lots of popups-on-hover, because touchscreens can’t register a hover — it comes up as a longtouch, and that has completely different purposes. You can, however, build a page that’s designed for multitouch, which mice can’t manage.

Purpose Built
The psychological factor also has to be mentioned here. People on mobile devices might well be lounging on their couch, surfing while their spouse watches the last episode of Sherlock again in preparation for the new season to start — or they might be on the bus with a 3-year-old on their lap and a bag of groceries in their other hand. You need to prepare your sites for that second group, and get to the point now.

SEO
The way that your mobile website’s SEO is going to interact with your desktop version’s SEO is going to depend on the answer to a critical question — a question we’ll discuss in the next episode. Seacrested!!

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