My smart phone is smarter than your 5th grader Posted by Mischa S.

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Date: February 20, 2012

Do you have a mobile phone?  Sorry, stupid question.  Unless, you’re 50 years in the future and you’ve stopped calling it that and now it’s implanted in your earlobe at birth….I digress.

Some stats from Cisco’s web site, just in case there is any question as to whether or not you should take this whole mobile web site thing seriously:

  • Mobile data traffic grew 2.3 fold in 2011, that’s the 4th year in a row it has more than doubled
  • Mobile video is now more than 50% of all mobile traffic in 2011
  • Mobile connection speeds are up 66% in 2011
  • Smartphone usage nearly tripled in 2011
  • And, really just a personal note here, Android sees more usage than iPhone *boom, take that you crazy Apple fan boys*

So, you want to build one now?  OK, here is a good starting point, if you’re a tech g(uy)(al):

  • W3C Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 – Yes, I know, these are boring to read, but it will keep you from making a bunch of no-nos right out of the gate
  •  Frameworks!
  • Mobile users don’t act like desktop users.  They will be asking conversationally how to get things.  So, “What’s the weather like in Cambridge” and “Where can I buy pants?”
  • Let folks find their way back home really easy.  Don’t stick them with 5 tiers of navigation.  Their screen is wicked small, it’s just not fair to them.
  • Make use of small URLs.  (This is counter intuitive to SEO style of longer page names)
  • Radio buttons and checkboxes stink on a small screen.  Avoid it!
  • Bandwidth, obviously.  Minify, compress, css colors instead of images, caching, blah blah blah.  Free bandwidth testing tool.  There are lots out there if you don’t like this one!
  • No horizontal scrolling
  • Setup different display layouts for different devices
  • Stay away from Silverlight and Flash, unless you absolutely can't
  • Get to know the meta tags that each of the handheld vendors understand.  You thought desktop compatibility was a pain?!?  Psssst, this is another reason to use a framework!
  • With the above in mind: “You can please some people some of the time, but you can never please everyone all of the time.”  In fact, trying to please everyone all the time will probably detract from your ability to really please anyone.  Pick your core audience and focus on those devices, then branch out.
  • Emulators are cool:

Did all that above stuff seem like gibberish?  If you’re looking for some tech folks to help translate some of this stuff, please let us know!