The Idea Dude


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IdeasUnplugged goes mobile

Seems like a silly thing to say, but our mobile site was never formatted for easy viewing on iPhones... until now.

Like most websites, you had to scroll around and pinch the page to get the right size and where you wanted to go. Not a great user experience.

We finally found time to fix that. Took us 2.5 days to revamp the site. Fortunately, most of the work was redoing the CSS stylesheet but we did have to redo some of the content. When it normally takes 2-3 weeks per website, I guess we did do some things right this time around.

Now both TheGoodBlogs and IdeasUnplugged are formatted properly for iPhone browsing. But you do need to have an iPhone or iPod Touch to see the fruits of our efforts.

We were contemplating of creating an iPhone simulator like we did for TheGoodBlogs but we used some Safari specific extensions (specifically, the webkit for CSS) which would not work well in a browser other than Safari. So unlike TheGoodBlogs that gives you a choice of looking at the main site or the mobile version, IdeasUnplugged will switch you over automatically when it detects you're browsing on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Some lessons learnt.

  • When doing a website, make sure you separate raw data (text and numbers) from formatting (like HTML tags) and styles (like CSS). That way you almost get away with just redoing the CSS for a different format. Where it breaks down, is you may elect to display less content or different content, in which case you do have to mess with the content logic.
  • Doing a mobile website teaches you to prioritize because of the limited space (which is a funny thing to say because the format of the iPhone 320x480 is half VGA for those of us old enough to remember VGA). That's the space us oldies had to contend with. These days with monitor resolutions 1,024 and up, we tend to fill our web pages with too much stuff.
  • Focus on getting a user to have just one good experience on a page and convey just one message to him/her. Probably the majority of websites today break that rule.
  • Worry about loading times and image sizes. Even 3G these days are not as fast as broadband despite what the techies tell you. Not as bad as dial up but we have less patience when you're holding a small device in your hand and you're waiting for just one thing.


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