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Responsive Websites: Is your website ready?

22nd April 2013

I was just curious to find out what the top Christmas gifts were for last year.  It wouldn’t come as much surprise, but according to Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2012/12/17/2012s-top-christmas-gifts-and-the-companies-behind-them/), the iPhone5 is top of the list followed by Tablets, e-readers and mp3 players.  So pretty much gadgets galore.

Gadgets are getting more widespread and why not? They are handy little widgets to have and do everything, probably even more than what the average PC can do.  Using my website as an example, the number of mobile devices that visit my website has more than doubled within the past year.

 Comparison of module devices between 2012 and 2013

So here comes the £64,000 question:  Have you checked your website on a tablet device yet?  If not then don’t you think you should?  What works perfectly fine on a PC may not necessarily be as user-friendly on a mobile device.

There are online services where you can get a website suited for mobile devices, but these are separate from your actual website and you will have to pay separate hosting costs.  so in the long run it is probably more cost-effective to include a stylesheet that works for mobile devices.

Audit

Start by carrying out an audit of your website.  View it on both a tablet and a Smartphone (Failing that check http://tablet-emulator.org/  ). Also viewing your website on  landscape and portrait:  Can you read the text, click the links and flick through the movie?  How about the main functionality of your website:  Can you complete and send a form?  Can you shop or can you send a message?

Keep it Simple

A general rule of thumb is to declare the maximum width of the screen at about 480 pixels.  This is less than half of a browser’s standard setup.  Therefore you will need to have a rethink of the elements of your website because they’re not all going to fit onto your website.  Keep it simple and think what needs to be included, what needs to be re-positioned and what can be hidden.

Easy to click areas

Even though touch screens have eased the burden of using arrow keys to navigate websites, not everyone has perfectly thin fingers (I for one might as well have 10 thumbs!).  So there will need to be a lot of space for links, buttons and other linkable areas on your website.  This can be achieved using the padding:  and margin: attributes in the stylesheet

Upgrade your software

If your website is based around content management or is a shopping site, it might be worthwhile to the software upgraded.  Not only will this to keep the website secure, but as the software is constantly being developed, it might also include dynamics for mobile use.  It is common practice for software companies to include a list of latest features for their current software.

Test Test Test

The most important thing now is to test the website to see how the website looks on your mobile.  This can easily be done by resizing your browser on your PC:  Once  the browser is resized to  480 pixels, the handheld stylesheet will take effect and you can then see your changes.  Do test the browser on both mobile and tablet and iPhone/iPad and Android.

It sounds a bit involved, but this investment of time will be worth it and will see your company through on the next generation of devices.


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