Is Your Web Site Phoning It In?
Cell phones are the next frontier for libraries in terms of providing access to resources and services. They present unique challenges, however. Is your web site ready for the web?
One of the things that I’ve been reading up on lately is the increase in using cell phones to surf the web. If you’ve done it before, you know that some sites show up really well while others, well let’s just say that they don’t quite measure up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using something that has a full blown web browser, like an iPhone, or something with a really basic screen – web sites look better if they’ve been designed for a cell phone. Fortunately, there are all kinds of resources available to help those of us who are just learning about designing sites for the mobile web. Here are a few that I recommend to get started.
This very brief guide from UKOLN offers a quick overview of what the mobile web is as well as the challenges and opportunities it presents. A great introduction to the subject.
This is another guide from UKOLN that does just what the title suggests. It gives you bulleted lists of best practices for all aspects of mobile web design.
You can’t discuss web best practices without referring to the W3C. This site focuses on best practices for mobile web sites, breaking news, and even offers a few tools that you can use when designing your site. You can even run a test of a web site to see how it measures up. Unfortunately, my library’s web site didn’t do so well. We’re going to have to change that!
Love him or hate him, Jakob Nielsen always has something interesting to say about web usability. This page talks about recommended practices for mobile web site designers.
There are, of course, many more that I could include, but this list will get you started. As a recent Pew Internet survey found, approximately 85% of adults have cell phones and the figure is still growing so it’s a topic that’s not going to go away. That means we have to build for the future or, as one person commented in a blog post, “the ‘no cell phones in the library’ sign needs to be replaced with [one that says] ‘put your library in the cell phone’”.
Disclaimer: The photo I used for this post was made available under a Creative Commons license. You can find the original photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edans/2893223588/ as well as the license details. I’m going to assume that the photographer did not have permission from RIM for use of the Blackberry logo, however.