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Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0

W3C Recommendation 29 July 2008

5:44 am on Aug 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0
W3C Recommendation 29 July 2008

I'm a new mobile web user. My eyesight is not what it used to be but I've forced myself to wear my glasses and see again. :)

During the past 30 days, I've been surfing various web properties with my Verizon Smart Phone. It has a full QWERTY keyboard and a pretty nifty sliding cover that shifts the display from portrait to landscape and vice versa. Either way, the results are still the same. Its a rather scary experience for someone who has surfed the "big web" all their lives. Between the dive into Social Media and using my phone for browsing those sites, I've been smacked in the face more than I want to admit.

Anyone designing websites today "must" accommodate the mobile user. I can assure you there are a few quality users on their mobile browsing your site if you attract that type of person. I may be one of them. You should take a look at your site right now in a mobile browser and see if you pass the basic tests. The first one being; can you browse your site?

I'd like to pull a few key points from the above best practices. The first one deals with URIs. Hey, Matt Cutts, check this out...

5.2 Navigation and Links

Typing URIs on mobile devices can be difficult, and it is expected that users will prefer to use alternative methods of obtaining URIs when available - such as following a hyperlink (from an e-mail, SMS or other Web page), WAP Push, 2D bar code, color bar code, RFID tag and Bluetooth. However, typing a URI may in some cases be the only option available. By keeping site entry point URIs short it is possible to reduce the chance of error and provide a more satisfactory user experience.

Whew, ain't that the truth! After you've typed it, you never want to clear your history, ever! Unless I'm missing something, that whole process of typing URIs into that tiny little screen area is a pain in the arse! And my phone has a larger screen than most!

5.4.3 Structural Elements

Ah-ha! Finally, some official documentation to support all the hubbub about structure and valid code. :)

One last important thing that most of you have forgotten!

2.3 Bandwidth and Cost

Hey, Social Media sites, what's up with the 500/600/750k page sizes? Do you know what that does on a mobile browser? It takes a while. And, if you try to get ahead of the progress bar, you're screwed. So, you have to wait for each page to load all 500-750k on each visit. Why can't you just include an alternative stylesheet like you're supposed to? Or, structure your site properly so it will display in various browsing devices.

Wake up! Get your designers to browse the site with their mobile phones and to stop sending text messages all day to Twitter or some other place like that. Do something productive!

<added> There are 5 areas to the above Best Practices. I'd like to take each sub-section and discuss in further detail. The above Best Practices are the road map to SEO in its most basic foundational form. A must discuss amongst all of us. Especially with the Mobile Web upon us. I challenge all responders to pick one of the many sub-sections and expand on it in their reply. ;)

3:32 pm on Aug 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Okay, you know how I like talking to myself about these "complex" subjects...

3.1 One Web

One Web means making, as far as is reasonable, the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using. However, it does not mean that exactly the same information is available in exactly the same representation across all devices.

Make sense? I got "IT". It comes down to this. Go to your website, disable styles, what do you see?

Now, disable images, what do you see?

And worse case scenario, disable JS, what happens?

Does your site work on a mobile device?

Are you ready for One Web?

5:06 pm on Aug 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Are you ready for One Web?

I believe I am, but the real question is whether handheld devices are.

I still find it more practical to intercept them and serve dedicated content.

Devices with severe memory restrictions can only have small pages delivered to them

Even if you have small pages with no multimedia the "One Web" ideal can be problematic.


5:06 pm on Aug 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If you're not ready or can't afford the time to re-design your pages so that they work flawlessly on both "full-size" and mobile devices, it's fairly easy to provide alternate pages for mobile devices.

In many cases, it's easy to divide your pages into those that mobile users need "right now" and those that most users would want to view later at home on their big screen. Of course, this depends on what kind of site you have.

Make your mobile pages "tiny" and divide up the content into several smaller pages -- I find that this really forced me to think about Information Architecture much more deeply, and led to a very useful re-structuring of some of my "full-size" pages as well.

But to expand on the "Navigation and Links" section, now is the perfect time to dump "file extensions" and go to very-short, concise and extensionless URLs. Forget multiple-keywords-in-hyphenated-URL silliness and go for short!

And mobile devices make very clear the reason why long, complex dynamic URLs with query strings stretching off the right end of the address bar *need* to be replaced by search-engine-friendly (and now mobile-user-friendly) URLs. If you've got any doubt, just try typing such URLs into a mobile device -- after four tries and three 404-Not Founds due to typing errors, the above ceases to be "just my opinion"... :)



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