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December 16, 2011

Advantages and Features of Mobile Web Design – What You Need to Know

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2011 is being touted as the year when mobile technology really comes to the fore. So what are the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of mobile web design? Which web development features are mobile friendly and which are not? Lastly and most importantly, how do you find out how mobile web design could work for your business?

Advantages of Mobile Web Design

* A well developed mobile website can mean an increased range of web visitors to your web site who will be happy to use your site to full effect and appreciate that it functions in the right way.

* If your business targets people on the move (e.g. a restaurant or hotel), you’ll most likely pick up business with good mobile web development.

* Even if your business isn’t a natural fit with mobile technology, giving thought to good mobile web design can present your company as a professional, cutting edge outfit which embraces new technology.

* Developing for mobile can expand your brand and product beyond your website into apps and software programs. The possibilities with mobile technology are growing by the day.

Disadvantages of Mobile Web Design

* You have to know what you’re doing. If done properly, there shouldn’t be any disadvantages to having a mobile web designed site. However, there are a few potential pitfalls which might annoy your mobile customers and have a detrimental effect on your search engine rankings for your web site as a whole.

* Things are always changing. You can’t expect to invest in your mobile web design and leave it there. Mobile web technology is growing and expanding. When a new smartphone comes on the market, you need to be prepared to grow and change to meet the new demands.

* It may not be appropriate for your business. As with any investment of time or money, you need to decide whether the ROI merits the effort you will put in. Businesses don’t all fit one mold, so you need to do your research before embarking on developing a mobile site to ensure that your expectations of the returns are met.

How to go about developing your mobile site – some of the characteristics of mobile web design and development

1) Check Your Stats

Before developing a mobile site, your first port of call is Google Analytics or similar program, where you can identify sources of traffic to your website. Google Analytics lets you know what percentage of your visitors are using mobile to access your website and which specific devices people are using. This will help you decide whether it is worth allocating resources to building a mobile web site for your business and which devices to use when testing your website design.

2) Create a Mobile Stylesheet

The best way to manage a mobile site is to use a different CSS stylesheet from the one you use for your browser pages. This technique is preferable to any other because it avoids duplicating content within your site (which can damage your search engine rankings) and makes it easier to update your site in one fell swoop.

3) Avoid Duplicating Content

Google can penalize your website for having lots of pages with the same content, so if you do decide to develop a different set of webpages for mobile phones, make sure that the content is specifically different from that for your browser website. If you need a full reference of dos and don’ts from Google, Webmaster Tools is a good place to start:

4) Keep Images to a Minimum

You need to work to your lowest common denominator and you don’t know what connection speeds you are dealing with on smart phones. If you can do so, keeping to a few small images will provide a more enjoyable experience for your customers visiting by phone.

5) No Flash… end of

Flash is not a feature of web development which is considered mobile friendly. It doesn’t work on iPhones and because of security constraints, may be phased out of many web browsers in the future, so it’s best avoided in any case. Additionally, Flash can’t be read by search engines so you won’t be scoring points on Google or Bing. If you want a phone-and search-engine-friendly Flash look-alike, why not try jQuery? It works using JavaScript, which is available on the vast majority of browsers and phones and your text can be read by search engines.

6) Apps

Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to develop an app. An app is a small program which is either free or can be purchased (the usual price for an iPhone app is £0.80). Apps sit as icons on the iPhone or other smartphone, so as well as providing a useful service to your web visitor, they are a great ongoing advertisement for your website and business.

6) Test It Out

Don’t have a smartphone? Opera has a great mobile emulator which allows you to see how your mobile site will look to your visitors by phone. With the Opera mobile emulator, you can try out different phones, vary screen sizes and resolutions and test out touch and keypad phones.

Happy mobile web development!


Victoria is an experienced, professionally qualified freelance web developer and web design professional based in Cambridge, UK, committed to delivering bespoke, elegant and reasonably-priced web solutions to small and medium-sized businesses across the UK.

My web design and development website: http://www.rebelphoenix.com Find me on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/rebelphoenixweb/

9 Responses to “Advantages and Features of Mobile Web Design – What You Need to Know

    Great Information i wasn’t now these thing it really help.

    Thanks Victoria for posting this great information

    Very nice and creative article. Thanks for sharing.

    A good overview defined about the web development process on internet based features , Nice sharing .
    Thanks for the info .

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    Mobile technology is changing quite rapidly. A good app would adjust to changes as soon as they come, don’t you agree? Its like an auto-reprogram :)

    A very nice post. I am also associated with Mobile web design, Web Design Rugby, SEO West Midlands industry. Thanks for writing this brilliant post and I have just subscribed to the same with a view of more such good posts you will be publishing over the coming days.

    avatar Tony says:

    “Flash can’t be read by search engines”? Really..?!

    This is a commonly propagated MYTH. I might even go as far as “lie”, but I prefer to assume that people have just not done their research. If you are going to talk about SEO, you need to keep up with web technology.

    “Googlebot can index almost any text a user can see as they interact with any Flash SWF file on your site, and can use that text to generate a snippet or match query terms in Google searches. Additionally, Googlebot can also discover URLs in SWF files (for example, links to other pages on your site) and follow those links.

    We’re continually working to improve our indexing of Flash files, but there are some limitations. For example, we’re currently unable to index the bidirectional language content…”

    –From Google’s own website (I’m sure you can find it by Googling “can google read flash”, I did.)

    ~ ~ ~

    “…because of security constraints, may be phased out of many web browsers in the future”

    No, Flash is being phased out on mobile devices because Adobe is unwilling to spend the time and money needed to make a plugin that works on so many browsers and platforms. It’s nothing to do with “security constraints”.

    ~ ~ ~

    “Javascript…and your text can be read by search engines…”

    Yes, but ONLY if it is programmed in such a way that the text is not embedded in an included Javascript file. The text needs to be part of the page, which some developers fail to take into account.

    avatar Steve says:

    These are really good information and features of mobile webs design.
    I think responsive web designs are the one of the best way to get a website design and developed in order to get the best results from visitors whether they are browsing from desktop or mobile phone!

    It is reaaly good and creative article.Thanks for writing this brilliant post and future of mobile web design. These are really good information.thanks for sharing

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