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The first step I took was to look at some existing mobile sites, a good list of quality mobile sites can be found here (the site is absolutely nothing to with me or any one I know):
Altenatively just type "mobile web pages into google and you will find other lists.
When I looked at the code behind a few of those sites they appear to be simple. And the layout of the sites is astonishingly similar. They should give you some ideas.
My mobile doesn't get the internet so just after Christmas I'm going to buy one of the poular mobiles which are good at dsiplaying online content - ipod, blackberry or google phone. Then I will be able to seee how the sites look on a small screen.
Next step will be to knock up a few pages to get some first hand experience. Then, start thinking about how to design the site, the content etc. I already have an idea of how the site might be used by mobile users.
I want to earn some money from the site so I will then investigate how to put Adsense on the pages.
At some point I need to understand how mobile phone users find sites, I'm not clear on that at the moment.
Apologies if that's all a bit basic, it's just my thoughts right at the outset of designing a site for mobiles.
[edited by: eelixduppy at 12:39 am (utc) on Nov. 19, 2008]
[edit reason] removed URL [/edit]
We design for clients in the fmcg sector and have used handsetdetection.com for the last few builds.
But if I put myself in the positon of a mobile phone user, how do I know if the site I wants to access has a mobile version? Not so many sites have a mobile version at the moment. I could end up lookng at 5 sites on my mobile, none of which have a mobile version.
Do mobile users have other mechanisms for searching? For example, I'm in the local hardware supermarket looking for widgets but I don't know which one to buy. I want to access a few mobile-orinted sites to get an idea of the pros and cons of various widgets.
So, do I go to Google (which has a mobile version) and type in "reviews of widgets"? If so, I might never reach a site which has a mobile version. Or do I try and get mobile specific information and type in ".mobi reviews of widgets" for example? Or any other way of increasing my chances of getting content suitable for a mobile?
As far as I am aware Google search done on a mobile returns a list of mobile websites. You can then choose to include normal websites in the search results if your phone is capable of it.
I was not aware of this. I just did a test desktop vs Opera mini 4.2. First site returned on both was a flash site. The phone chocked on it. This tells me that Google does not know not to serve flash sites to mobile web browsers.
I've got to get and get a decent mobile to experiment. Mobiles must be the way forward, but the catch is that I can't see how something like Adsense is going to make a decent return as it stands at the moment. But they will work out a way to make a buck or two (trillion) and I want to be there at the beginning.
Create a search engine for mobile phones. With an interface optimized for mobile browsers and search results that include websites designed specifically for mobile phones.
My recommendation: design a "regular" web site using full css. For mobile users, just use a different css stylesheet that formats the same content better viewing.
One caveat: I did notice that if you want to use AdSense for mobile, Google requires a cHTML or WAP website. I suspect they will change that.
Qwertydesign is right, mobile users expect things to work, and for the site to know that they are on a mobile device and automatically serve the correct version. Without the software, it is more difficult than it seems at first. The .htaccess file plays into this.
You will also need to change the depth of view to be a collection of a lot more 'shallow' short pages, instead of fewer larger 'deep' pages.