The mobile web (mobile website) is an open field in web development and web design.  Businesses are quickly converting their normal websites to be mobile compatible to take the advantage of this growing technology trend.

There is a couple of aspects to take into consideration if you are planning to create a mobile friendly website for your business.

Text or graphics

The smallest mobile handset screens have resolutions of 128 x 160 and these work best with text only.  More and more mobile handsets are being released with larger screen sizes.  Having more graphics works well on medium and larger screen sizes, but the graphics also need to be optimized for them.  Graphics must be small in size and they must be able to load quickly.

Different resolutions

What size screen should designers design for? This really depends on what mobile phone your target market is using.

  1. Feature phones have smaller screens with a size of 176 x 220 pixels. Today these are the most popular mobile devices for accessing the Internet.
  2. Smart phones have a larger screen size of 480x 320. Smart phones are the fastest growing segment of the cell phone market.

If you are targeting a mixed market (smart phone users and feature phone users) a maximum size of 200 x 250 pixels is strongly recommended.

Location

It is a myth that mobile websites should be on a top-level domain (.mobi).  It is practical to have a mobile website only on a sub domain of your website eg “http://m.mashable.com”.  Web sites can automatically detect what platform a visitor is accessing the site through and redirect them appropriately.  That means that if a user browses to your normal website via their mobile browser, they are redirected to your mobile friendly website.

Keep it simple

A mobile phone is a “on the move” business tool as users can quickly look up information on the mobile web.  Keep the menu structure of your mobile website simpler and easy to navigate.  Allow users to reach the content they are looking for in a few steps if possible.

The future and beyond

More and more people and businesses are realising the power of the mobile web.  People are busy trading in their cell phones for smart phones at an increasing rate.  By the end of 2009, most major companies will have mobile compatible websites. Within the next 3 years, most businesses will have mobile versions of their website to take advantage of this trend.