Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Mobile Users?

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Mobile Users?

For those of you who are regular smartphone users, I’m sure you have come across sites which require a lot of fidgeting to zoom in, navigation buttons going to nowhere or a page that doesn’t load at all. Whether advancing in technology is something you embrace or stay away from, it is important to consider your market by creating a mobile friendly site. This can be a challenge for web designers and developers. Some visions can be lost in the process of creating a mobile friendly site. This week I’m focusing on Mobile vs. Videos and Flash.

Restrictions?

Videos are a great way to communicate your products, ideas, missions and to inspire to the world. For some people, visuals have more of an impact than reading heavy lengths of paragraphs. It’s something that can be shared across the board on social media and can attract users who have never heard of you. In current web design we see these beautiful full screen videos; soft focus, macro shots, fiery sunsets, vast cities, people loving life… to show to us an idealistic way of living if you use their product, or their site. However mobile users are not offered this in the same way. Considerations have to be made about the quality of the videos, we have to consider those using cellular data and how long it may take a site to load. And we all know how impatient was can be with loading screens! In some cases, if you are using plugins, video backgrounds may not be even compatible with mobile and will be replaced with a fallback image.

I was brought into the era of Flash when I started my virtual life, from playing online games to interactive videos. So inspired by Miniclip games, I wanted to pursue creating my own in college. Unfortunately, my time learning action script in college crossed over with the boost in popularity of smartphone usage. I felt all I have learned was for nothing… Flash is not compatible with iOS and my projects are not going to reach a large chuck of the market. I still like to think that Flash is not a dying program, and I’m not willing to let go. Some compromises have to be made….

How can you make your website mobile friendly?

First off, there’s a decision to be made… Do you want a mobile friendly site, or an app? This decision could be crucial to your business. Talk to your web developer, better yet, talk to your current users, what would they prefer? Would they take the time to download your app, or is your business something to scroll over once? If your business involves e-commerce, or a vast amount of content, I can say an app is more likely to be a better option. Take the time to do your research if you are considering an app for your business, this will take your developer more time.

However if you are looking for a mobile site, or even starting your site from scratch, it CAN be an easy option. Building a site for the web can be optimised for mobile. Some restrictions can occur and compromises will be made when trying to suit both (background videos for example). You will need to build a responsive site, where all your content will react to the width of each device, and across all browsers. It is your aim to keep everyone happy, and not to focus on one device or browser, or to assume your visitors will have high speed internet.

However another  route I have found, working on personal or college projects, is to create a separate mobile site. This may be a nightmare idea to some developers! As I said about Flash games or applications, if you feel you want to include something created in Flash on your site, it can be done… whilst considering your mobile users. With most swf files can’t be used on iOS, you can place the swf on your website, whether this be a complete site made in Flash, or just a container withing your site. Then create a separate mobile site. With a few lines of code on your index page, a mobile device can redirect to a mobile friendly site. You can include all the content you have on your web version, the only downside being the experience will be different…no fancy interactions or games that you made in Flash, but hey, at least the users can view something. But why not let them know on your mobile site to visit on desktop to play that game you have spent weeks on!

Keep in mind however, some swfs can be converted for mobile, in my experience, animations created in Flash can be exported to a mobile friendly version and you get best of both worlds!

 

Although I’ll cover some other issues in the future, my overall advice for both the web developer and the client, is to be open to compromises and new ideas. It doesn’t mean your vision needs to change…. but how you go about it.

Some Resources

Code to Redirect to Mobile Friendly Site

Convert SWF to HTML Version

 

Image Source: dawnfu on Pixabay

Web Developer & Designer

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