Here are some key considerations when choosing to develop either for mobile web or a native mobile app:
Platform Integration: Does your content need to be integrated with other native mobile apps on the device—such as email, cameras, contact lists or other hardware controls? – Then you need a native mobile app.
Usage Location: Does data in your app needs to be accessed without Internet access? Then you need a native mobile app.
Cost and Availability of Resources: Do you have a small budget?
Mobile web app requires standard web technologies.
Native mobile apps require greater expertise in various SDKs and specialized languages.
Speed to Market: How quickly are you trying to launch your app?
Mobile Web apps can be launched without delay; bugs can be fixed instantly; data can be provided as required.
Native mobile apps require a review process, which can take weeks and there can be content issues imposed by the App stores. Bugs also take longer to fix and update.
Does your target market have access to app devices?: To launch and app you need to develop for iPhone and Android and of course this leaves Blackberry and all those older mobiles that will not have access.
The choice comes down to your company’s business objectives and how you want your customers to engage with your company and its content. Don’t forget your customer is the most important target—not the device comes next.
The iPad mini has arrived in time for Christmas and it is going to be hot (have you seen one?). This is going to add all sorts of new issues into the boiling pot for web designers around the world because the most popular task done on an iPad is browsing the web and you can bet that will be what the mini iPad will be used for. On top of this there is the new Kindle HD – which is basically a tablet – and the Google Nexus 7.
These devices are sporting a new screen size not as big as the iPad and not as small as a mobile but different enough to make the marketing department stop and think.
The aim of every serious player on the web is you need to be adaptive and meet demands of visitors using any device. If you run a website whose revenues are directly linked to the quality of the experience they provide to customers (i.e. e-commerce, multi-channel retailers or media companies) then you must be adaptive and you must starting now.
The iPad mini may be the device that tips the market. A standard desktop site just won’t work acceptably on a 7in iPad Mini screen. A 12px font will be unreadable; normal buttons will not be clickable and clumsy and form inputs will drive people mad with frustration.
So here is a check list
Make your text bigger and more readability, we suggest at least 14 px.
Add more padding – increase padding and line-height of densely improves touch accuracy. Pay special attention to form elements such as dropdowns, picklists, checkboxes etc.
Design flexibility – use design elements that can move around and adapt to the full range of tablet screen sizes – from 600px to 1000px wide.
Remove fixing page widths.
Remove all mouse hover interactions.
Avoid “position: fixed” design elements – they slow down rendering.
Cut down on HTTP requests as this will slow performance. Think about all those links to Facebook, Twitter and Google + that will add more load and slow everything down.
Optimize your images – you should be doing this anyway. Many of these tablets have (or will have) fantastic high-definition displays but do not be tempted to deliver high quality image as default it will reduce the user experience. Serve the right quality images when requested.
Optimize scripts and styles – keep them as compact as possible.
So now is the time to move to responsive and adaptive designs and keep ahead in the market.
More of us are designing for mobile. There are few tips we have come across when advising clients.
Less is better. It may seem obvious but it can be the hardest part of a mobile design. The space you have to work with is precious and you have to be exact about what you want the visitor to see and do.
Use bigger touch targets. The entire story needs to be tappable do not expect users to be precision tappers – research generally shows that the smaller the area to tap the more you are likely to loose the visitor.
Use full headlines – do not truncate headlines. This will give the biggest design improvement, because the full headline provides substantially stronger information trail than few words.
Enhanced scannability by highlighting key words in the headlines.
Always show a short story summary. Show it under each headline to increase the strength of the information trail and encourage the user to move to the next step.
Using unique thumbnail photos wherever possible. This adds visual interest, enhances scannability and information trail. A picture says a thousand words and the visitor recognizes a picture faster than they can read a headline.
Use your space very carefully. It is OK to use tighter spacing to get more information onto in first mobile page. Users do scroll down but the more they can view in less space means that they work less for each new story.
Try and cut out repeated information. Information redundancy is a poor use of screen space – this is true for any web design. Consider whether certain information is really needed – categories, tags, dates etc.
Ensure sufficient spacing between the navigation options. There is nothing more frustrating than touching the wrong option.
Label your drop-down menus instead of using just a triangle to denote options.
Recent research show that 78% of smartphone owners use their phones while they shop. This is the reality that all businesses are going to have to get used to and fast. The ease and convenience of using mobile phone means that the percentage of mobile browsers will only grow as smartphones market penetration increases.
The challenge for small businesses is how to get their website to effectively cope with this growth. There are some very effective solutions on the market that does not cost fortune.
Get your business register correctly into Google Places. This is essential and separate from any website you may own. Google Places automatically adjusts for mobile users.
(for more on this see How to Grab your Google Place
Get a website – if you don’t have one.
Use a website building tool that automatically adjusts for a mobile user. The most immediate one that springs to mind is WordPress.
Use online tools like Mobify.me that will allow you to automatically adapt your existing website for a mobile market.
Community Connections has 10 years specialising in helping businesses, large and small, develop their Internet Strategy
In November, 67.1 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 0.5 percentage points versus the prior three month period, while browsers were used by 35.3 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 0.8 percentage points). Subscribers who used downloaded applications comprised 33.4 percent of the mobile audience, representing an increase of 1.1 percentage points. Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 1.0 percentage points, representing 23.5 percent of mobile subscribers. Playing games attracted 22.6 percent of the mobile audience while listening to music attracted 15.0 percent.
Mobile Content Usage 3 Month Avg. Ending Nov. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Aug. 2010 Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+ Source: comScore MobiLens
Local, social, and real-time will be three of the largest factors in on-line search for 2011.
Of nearly a thousand apps added to Programmable Web’s MashUp directory, 270 of them tapped into the Google Maps API, nearly 200 tapped into Twitter’s, and nearly 100 tapped into Facebook’s and YouTube’s each.
Each of these is extremely valuable to search and show that the industry is targeting these sectors and so should you as a business.
The war over Flash is over as more and more sites and web developers are moving away from Flash-only web solutions.
The issue is Mobile access to your website – on so many devices Flash will not work. Even those mobile devices that do support Flash it is usually not full support and is unreliable. There is no worse experience than visiting a website from a mobile to find that it can not be accessed if the core of the site is built in Flash.
Flash was the cool tool for websites around 2005 – if you are one of these site owners then it may be time to upgrade to something more accessible.
There are some very clever on-line tools on the market that will automatically detect mobile and switch to an automatic mobile version of your site. Possibly one of the cleverest is Mobify.me where a mobile version of your site can be set up in minutes.
For more advice on making your site more Mobile friendly and on how to find out if people are visiting your site from mobiles please contact Community Connections Cambridge
More and more website owners are taking the time to make their sites mobile friendly. Having a mobile compatible or mobile optimized website means that not only will your site load faster over cellular data connections but that content will be better formatted for the screens of smaller devices, making it easier to access and understand.
Smartphone adoption soared in the UK in 2010 with 70% of new phones (over 11 million) sold being defined as a Smartphone and we are the leaders in Europe. As this continues more of our online time is spent on our phones. This means there is growing pressure on making sure that small businesses have a mobile website that is fast and pleasant on a mobile to improve your website’s total effectiveness.
Luckily for small websites help is at hand and sometimes at very little cost.
WordPress.com – If you are using a WordPress.com then these sites are already mobile friendly if you choose it to be. If you look at Appearance and Extras you will see a “Display a mobile theme when this blog is viewed with a mobile browser” option. This needs to be ticked.
RSS feeds- If your website has an RSS feed then this can be used as the mobile offering. This isn’t an ideal solution but it works – try Mippin.com
Community Connections is very happy to help and advise small businesses on how to make the most of their website.