Websites for tablets and smartphones

Web design used to only have on platform: the computer.  Websites looked the same for everyone and there was no need to develop multiple websites with multiple with the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, mobile users are beginning to rival computers in number of searches.  Therefore, if a business only has a website made for computers, they won’t be effectively reaching a significant number of users.  Web designers should be sure they have a site that is made for tablets and smartphones to effectively reach these users.

Know Your Audience

Understanding who is going to be looking for your site is important in knowing exactly where you should spend your resources in order to make a mobile operating system.  If your website is going to attract a lot of your people or casual web surfers, make sure your mobile website is optimized for Android and iOS, the two most popular operating systems among smartphone users.  If your website is tailored more for business-specific individuals, it may be best to create a mobile website that is optimized for Blackberry or Windows Phone.  If your potential web surfers are using a version of the site that is not created for their phone’s operating system, they will see the desktop version, making the mobile version useless.

Know Your Resolution

Smartphones and tablets each come with their own pixel ratio that will impact what the mobile website will look link on their phone.  The typical resolution is 101×80 pixels for Sony Ericsson phones, 128×128 pixels for most Samsung phones and 120×160 pixels for most types of Motorola. The iPhone has a resolution of 320×480 pixel, while the HTC Touch Pro has a resolution of 480×640 pixel. Since new phones hit the market daily and new models can have their own pixel ratio, it is important to stay on top of the technology and have a mobile website that will look good on any phone.

Know How to Optimize

Google has a separate index for mobile websites (Googlebot-Mobile), meaning if someone is searching for information on their phone or tablet and all you have is a desktop site, you may be shut out of the results entirely.  Considering approximately 20% of people surf the web on their phone or tablet daily, that is a huge market segment that you won’t be reaching.  In order to best optimize your site, you will want to keep both the mobile and desktop versions of your site separate from one another.  This means, for instance, if you have a site map for your website, you will want the mobile site map to list only pages from the mobile domain, while the desktop sitemap should list only those from the desktop domain.  Google can also tell what sites are optimized for what particular devices, so a user on an iPhone, for instance, would get sites back that are best optimized for their phone first.  Therefore, it is important to hit multiple platforms in order to have your content found.

Know Your Coding

Creating two sites for different browsing methods is done through specific lines code.  You will want two separate CSSs, one for the desktop and one for the mobile site.  After these style sheets have been made, insert these two lines of code in the header of your page:The site will then detect what device a user is browsing from and give them the optimized site for their device.  This way, there would only need to be one domain for both.  And with that second code, the CSS will detect the optimum pixel size of a given device and set the site in that size.  Since 480 pixels is most likely the largest screen size, that style sheet code will be good for just about any device the user could be using.

Know Your Software

If you want to develop a mobile site, you will have to know the software to use to create a mobile website.  One good open source program is Plone.  This CMS allows for an all-in-one program that will allow the user to design whatever they may need.  It can be somewhat overwhelming at first, but once a user gets the hang of it, it is pretty straightforward.  With this site, a user can build a good mobile site for free.  Drupal is another good web design program.  It is flexible, easy to learn, and new versions are always coming out which stays on top of user trends and technology.  Either one of these programs allows a person to create both a desktop site and a mobile site and have it be responsive to the user’s browsing method.  This way, no matter what a person is using to find your website, you know it will always look the best and provide the user is the best interface.

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