Mobile websites

In our previous iPad article we highlighted some day to day uses for Apple's tablet device, to illustrate some of the benefits such a device can bring to your business. With mobile devices accounting for as much as 20% of visitors to our client websites, we felt it was important to discuss these devices in relation to your existing and future website strategies.

In the past few years, mobile internet access has become richer and richer. Since the introduction of smart phones such as the Blackberry and iPhone, the internet can be accessed from mobile devices just as easily as on a computer or laptop. However, the experience is seldom the same, so let us take a look at why this is the case.

Smart phones, PDAs, e-books, tablets, etc - are perfectly suited for carrying out quick tasks, such as checking schedules, documents and emails, in almost any environment. Laptops and netbooks, while portable, require the user to be stationary (ie; sitting down) in order to carry out longer, more complicated and involving tasks generally associated with computers, which are typically much more powerful.

Technical specifications differ greatly between mobile devices, affecting performance and capability. While many smart phones are just as capable of displaying websites as a computer or laptop, others only deliver partial compatibility. This leaves many website visitors having a very different (and often unfavourable) experience of your website.

Today, mobile devices (with the exception of tablets) typically feature restrictive pocket-sized touch screens. The trillions of websites already on the internet however, have been designed for computers and laptops with much larger screens and more capable input devices, as are most software applications. Much of the functionality and features taken for granted on websites such as drop-down menus, adverts, banners and video, do not translate over to mobile devices well (if at all) despite manufacturers' best intentions of providing access to them.

In order to richen the mobile user experience, separate mobile-friendly versions of websites can be created. These are often void of the afore-mentioned functionality and features we have come to expect from our computers, but can still be as attractive and easy to use. For an excellent example of a mobile targeted website, check out the award-winning BBC website which provides a very different experience for mobile users and computer users.

There are many ways to provide content to mobile users, depending on business objectives, target audience, hosting options and limitations, design and development expertise, time and cost. All have their pros and cons, which is why Blue Horizons have spent several months putting a foundation in place for all our future websites, which includes integrated accessibility provisions for both mobile devices and assistive technologies to reflect the ever-changing requirements of our clients' visitors.

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If you have any queries about mobile websites or want to know more about what we can do to improve mobile access for your website, then please feel free to get in touch with us at