Mobile Web Design
Mobile web design involves the development of Internet-connected applications for viewing on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet PC that is connected to the Internet via a wireless network. This design today still suffers from usability and interoperability problems. Usability problems are difficult due to the small physical size of the mobile phone form factors. Interoperability issues arise from the platform fragmentation of mobile devices, mobile operating systems and mobile browsers. These are two of the toughest challenges when doing web design for the mobile web.
Going forward, the distinction between the mobile web and native mobile applications is predicted to become increasingly blurred, as mobile browsers gain direct access to the hardware of mobile devices and the performance of browser-based applications improve. Persistent storage and access to sophisticated graphics user interface functions may further reduce the need for the development of platform-specific application and web designs.
In order to help web designers, the development of standards are being implemented to improve the usability, interoperability and accessibility problems. The W3C Mobile Web Initiative is a new initiative set up by the W3C to develop best strategies and practices. The purpose of the initiative is to make developing web applications for mobile devices more reliable and accessible.
The W3C has published guidelines for mobile web design and is actively addressing the problem of device diversity by establishing a technology to support a repository of device descriptions. They are also developing a validating scheme to assess the readiness of content designed for the mobile web through its mobileOK scheme. This will help web designers to quickly determine if their content is web-ready.
The registry for.mobi, the mTLD, has released a free testing tool called the MobiReady report to analyze the mobile readiness of a particular web design. It will perform a free page analysis and provides a Mobi Ready score. This helps web designers determine if their website is mobile ready using industry best practices and standards.
Interested industry groups are exploring and documenting other standards for mobile web design for the purpose of education and training. One such project is the Standards for M-Learning Project.