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Mobile Ready Web Sites
Like most businesses, our company has a web site, that has been around for many years, long before cell phones and wireless portable computing devices became web-enabled.
Like many businesses, we are always busy and on a budget, so we searched on the web for terms like "how to make your web site mobile friendly".
We read general tips and advice, used web site checkers, and browsed prices for consulting and service companies, that for a hefty fee, promised to make web sites mobile friendly.
One option we read about, was to move our web site to WordPress and use plug-ins, however that seemed to be rather drastic. To me, WordPress seems to work better for a blog, than for a general purpose web site.
We found a lot of generic recommendations; for example, to avoid Flash, simplify, and to use CMS and CSS. However, what do Cascading Style Sheets and Content Management Systems (both having merits) have to do with mobile device readiness?
We found several warnings, that if one did not change their web site, they will lose business. Long term, that is usually true. Change always comes, so we should embrace it. However even today, our website looks fine on my iPod touch, with no mobile-friendly changes made, probably because we use plain old HTML.
Making software work everywhere depends more on simplicity and standards, than on complexity. Even if mobile devices were not taking off like a sky-rocket, one must occasionally update their web site.
After much reading, web "window shopping", and testing, and before spending big money revising our web site, we decided to look at our site first with an iPod Touch. We just wanted to see how much work would be required, and we were very surprised.
Because our web site is content-rich, yet it uses mostly simple html. It has no Adobe Flash, and it works very well on mobile devices. We found we could navigate and read everything, partially because of the scrolling and zooming features of the iPod/iPhone. We discovered that our web site already worked so well, that we stopped worrying about it being more mobile compatible, for now.
Will our web site work on lessor devices than the iPod? We do not know for sure. However, any future iPods and iPhones, and the competitors whose products are inspired by iPods/iPhones, will display most web sites just fine.
If your site uses every latest technology, flash, and every bell and whistle, maybe a lot of work is required to make your web site work on portable devices.
Always test, to check if your web site is confusing, or does not work on a mobile device, as soon as possible. Surprisingly, many sites work better on modern mobile devices than most people would guess.
This reminded me, that this is not the first time technological problems should be first approached from a Zen point of view.
When it comes to technology, it is often best to start with simple, cheap, and easy, end-user tests first; before deciding on what (if any) work needs to be done next.
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