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12 tips for mobile-friendly web content, from Web Content Mavens meetup

August 19, 2010

About 100 web content mavens met up at the Washington Post’s headquarters on Tuesday, August 17th to learn about options and tips for creating mobile-device-friendly web content at the “Making a Mobile Website” meetup. Due to popular demand, the event will be repeated September 14th. Featured speakers were Cory Lebson of Lebsontech and Jerome Ferrara of NetBiscuits, both mobile solution providers. Jasmine Sante, who organized the event, and John Schmidt of Vaya Mobile also provided insight and discussion. Here are some tips shared by the speakers at the event:

  1. As with any content discussion, your first question when creating or repurposing content for mobile use should be Who is your first priority audience? FEMA’s mobile website, for example, is directed to people experiencing a disaster looking for relief and preparedness information.
  2. Think about each component of usability: effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of specified users in specified context of use.
  3. Keep in mind people are often looking for a quick check of specific, basic information: phone number, address, directions, etc., as opposed to the more extended, casual browsing at a desktop or laptop.
  4. In addition to the quick check, other users may be looking for interactions optimized for their mobile device, such as videos or games, especially if you are an entertainment provider. This type of content will keep people coming back.
  5. Simplicity
  6. Screen resolutions are much smaller and vary widely. Keep content to one column.
  7. Don’t use tables to lay out content as they can be displayed inconsistently.
  8. There is great variability of hardware, screen-size, and software used to access the mobile web. Test what your mobile content will look like across a variety of platforms and phone types: iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Palm, Nokia, and feature phones that include web access. Recruit colleagues, friends, and family who have different devices and have them run through use scenarios.
  9. Don’t forget about the long tail of users; about 60% of mobile traffic comes from devices that are not the most popular three or four.
  10. Graphics should be used sparingly and only if they are of high importance or value, such as a logo to maintain consistent branding. Colors tend to wash out outdoors.
  11. You may want to default to the mobile site for certain devices, but give users the option of the regular site if they prefer.
  12. Start preparing for the future mobile web now, including bigger screens and faster and more reliable data transfer. By 2014, more people worldwide will be accessing the web from mobile devices than from computers.

In short, the early mobile web bears close resemblance to the early world wide web – lack of standards, inconsistency in hardware and software used to access it, small screen resolution and sometimes slow connections. But we can employ the strategies learned over the past couple decades of traditional web design to make the mobile web just as user-friendly as the modern web.

Contact the individuals or companies who participated for more information on optimizing your corner of the mobile web. What tips, tricks, and tools have you found useful in making your website mobile-friendly?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 10:22 pm

    These are simple tips to consider. Thanks for sharing.

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