Monday, October 3, 2011

Website Makeovers for Mobile Users

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.

Meloa Norman

"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

Best practices

  • 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)

Steve Butzel

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:

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

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

1 comment:

  1. Hi all,

    Mobile website is a best practice to develop a successful mobile presence. It offers to grow by leaps and bounds, designed specifically for mobile browsing provide surfers with stripped-down versions of traditional web pages. Thanks a lot....

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