Mobile is where the web is going. Trend statistics from Google show that by the middle of this year mobile search volume (searches done on mobile devices like the iPhone) will exceed that of desktop search. With the recent announcement of the iPad, and the new generation of Android devices, progress in this area is showing no signs of abating soon and Adobe’s pending release of the Flash CS5’s ‘Packager for iPhone’ is just going add fuel to this fire.
We were an early developer of mobile sites for WAP Phones, almost 10 years ago now, and it’s great to see how far the technology has come. There are still limitations, but the scope of what you can do with HTML5 capable mobile browsers is amazing in comparison. The flow on of web standards from desktop browsers has also been a great benefit. Gone are the days of supporting possibly up to 100 different handset configurations. The migration of mobile API’s (like geolocation and location services) to desktop browsers is easing the development burden even further.
Many of our sites, including this one, now incorporate a mobile style sheet and iPhone springboard icons to ensure good user experience on all devices. This an important consideration when developing a site, as the range of devices it’s likely to be viewed on has increased considerably. Visual design plays an important role here; will it work well in a single column format? is the text size big enough to read on a small screen? For a lot of sites these questions remain unanswered, because they were never considered. And if you’re not considering your mobile audience, now is the time to start.