Is your website mobile-friendly? Melora Norman from Unity College Library in Unity, ME, shares her expertise on universal and common-sense techniques and best practices for content and design. Steve Butzel from Portsmouth (NH) Public Library showcases his successes with LibAnywhere and his mobile Online Newstand.
"Universal Design" is designing a tool for the widest possible audience regardless of how they choose to use/access something (instead of maintaining multiple parallel methods tailored for different groups. One example is ramps in sidewalks - everyone can benefit from them without excluding access from anyone.
Small screen problems
- pictures either too big or too small (but requires use of ALT text)
- Lengthy or irrelevant text - be concise
- fixed-sized tables - forces too much scrolling
- poor/unintuitive navigation
- low contrast text/backgrounds (just go with black-on-white)
- plug-ins: flash, java (tough to update, resource compatibility) - use only when vital, not just for fancy things
Consider the context
- mobile users are often very focus in need, but distracted during user
Special pages for mobile users?
Perhaps, if you really need something that only functions well on a large monitor
Try designing the mobile site first, and see what doesn't fit in
- Be concise
- Use bullets
- Edit, and then edit again - eliminate anything unnecessary
- Clean markup & CSS: good code = good universal experience
- Use images well and deliberately - small
- Label form field and tables - accessibility code is important
- Use consistent headers and navigation - don't make people work or hunt
You are here
- More smartphones than desktops will be sold in 2011
- More people have web-enabled phones that PCs with internet-access
- People expect to access key services via phones - it's not a "side project" for them
- Lower socio-economic mobile phone owners don't have any other access (don't have computers, broadband, landlines)
Mobile is taking off - we know that. The people that use them REALLY love them, often describing them as "necessary." They use them for specific functions, but don't always have undivided attention - plan for this.
Portsmouth (NH) Public Library mobile website is designed for targeted use: http://www.cityofportsmouth.com/library/mobile.htm
It doesn't have to be fancy - it just has to work. But mobile patrons like a good experience, so if you can make it more fun, do it.
Mobile Web is not a Mobile App. There are lots of library-related apps though (Overdrive, LibAnywhere, Boopsie, Mango, etc). Apps look much fancier and might have more customized functions, but you can do much of it in a mobile website for free.
It's also fun to integrate gamification into your mobile website - it'll drive traffic just because it's a cool thing to do. Portsmouth uses "Games and Quests" - Guess the book by it's cover, QR Code Quest, Scavenger Hunt, Geocaching, Treasure Quest (give extra points for using databases).
For details on auto-detecting and redirecting mobile phones to mobile website, see http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/mobile
Mobile Online Newsstand
- Makes magazines (you already pay for and have access to through your databases) much easier for patrons to access
- Shows covers like a physical newsstand
- Links to articles in current issue's table of contents, also with link to other issues
- Lots of libraries involved already
- It's free - all that's required it you "adopt" a magazine and add those links to the newsstand