Is Your Web-Site Anti-Portable Device?

In his “Fatal Exception” blog on InfoWorld, Neil McAllister writes a great piece for web site owners called, “7 Web UI mistakes to avoid for smartphones and tablets.” I won’t regurgitate the entire article (please take time to read it yourself), but a couple points in case you don’t.

First, does this conversation sound familiar to you?

Clients say the darnedest things. The other day, one scoffed, “Anyone who’s looking at our website on a stupid little phone screen probably isn’t our customer anyway.”

I was taken aback. “Really?” I replied. “What if they’re at a business lunch and they want to show their boss the specs of one of your products?” A pause. “What if they’re just trying to find your phone number?”

Now…this doesn’t mean every company must have a mobilized version of the web site, but you should at least avoid things that prevent a smart phone user from reasonably surfing it.

Second…not that it’s important…but it’s a personal pet peeve…make sure your funky in-document scrolling areas work on (of all things) an iPad:

Custom scroll bars are a particularly egregious example. Occasionally designers will want to override the default controls with JavaScript, replacing them with sleek, skinny, and more visually appealing widgets. The problem for tablet users is twofold: Not only are tiny widgets harder to hit with your finger, but tablet users don’t scroll using scroll bars anyway; they swipe the screen. Forcing them to use custom controls only hobbles your UI.

I curse Facebook every time one of their modals comes up and I only get to view the part of the list that happens to fit in the first “page” of the output.

Ultimately, producing a mobile version of sites has become much easier (especially for folks using CMSes like WordPress and Joomla!)…it really is just a time commitment (and not a huge one). TixxTech uses mobify.me‘s free service. Right now it’s not working 100%…but that’s because I’m not a business that should assign someone to keep up on it and (for instance) the link for Ticketing Companies, Blogs, Etcetera I put at the top of the site isn’t getting “mobified” for some reason (and I haven’t yet figured out why). Additionally, changing the structure and adding widgets can affect the rules a service like Mobify uses to scrape and reproduce your site. A better option with CMSes is generally finding a plug-in (and both WordPress and Joomla! have good free ones).

There is a solution…

(This article is cross-posted on our TixxTech blog.)

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