Mobile computing – Are we there yet?

Does your site look good when viewed on an iPhone, on a PDA, or ultra-portable laptop? Does it really matter? What percentage of your visitors use these platforms to browse sites?

This is a question I have been asking myself recently. With the roll-out of the 3G networks (pretty much globally) the speed of Internet browsing via mobile devices had increased to a now acceptable level. Couple this with reasonable mobile data tariffs, wi-fi hot-spots, and a plethora of gadgets to go with them, surely more and more people will be experiencing your site through a mobile device.

That said, I have not made the jump myself. Yes, I have RSS options on my sites, so mobile users could use those, but for the casual browser I don’t make any changes to suit their platform. I think this is for two reasons. Firstly it takes a lot more effort to develop a site and tailor part of it to be specific to the portable platform, and secondly the percentage of people using these platforms (certainly according to my stats) is too small to make it worthwhile.

I think blogs are possibly the ideal platform to take advantage of the mobile platforms. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t have a WordPress theme installed that is tailored to mobile computing, and it gets served based on the header information transmitted when the page is loaded. That way the effort would be minimised, while maintaining the user experience. Good idea?

I do think times are-a-changing though, and the market is growing and growing. Sales of laptops now generously outstrips sales of desktop PC’s, and almost all phones now have some kind of browser in them. At some point it will become necessary to make the changes, but when that will be I’m just not sure.

Have you designed a mobile website? How was it received? Do people use it?

5 replies
  1. Lyndi
    Lyndi says:

    On my site I use mofuse.com to create a mobile feed for me. You simply add a regular feed and they do the rest. The statistics on this mobile feed is not very good but then again I do not advertise the feed at all. Maybe I should at least add the mobile URL to my site.

    Reply
  2. Tertius
    Tertius says:

    That’s a really good idea Lyndi.

    I personally use RSS when going mobile to read news and things and I’d like to promote that. I’m not at the level yet where I get much readers but I’m slowly moving up.

    Reply
  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Lyndi: That’s a good idea, I think I will have a look at that. While I want to make thins easy for the mobile user, it is not with going to a lot of trouble for just a few users. Looks like you have a nice option there.

    @Tertius: RSS is my current preferred (and only!) option too. I have started using it more myself recently, mainly for adding content to iGoogle. I rarely use it when I am mobile to be honest.

    Reply
  4. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Will: Nice one! If only I had an iPhone I would take a look. I like the look of your site through a normal browser though, looks like it would lend itself to an iPhone version.

    Reply

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