The widespread deployment of Web-enabled mobile devices (such as phones) make them a target of choice for content creators. Understanding their strengths and their limitations, and using technologies that fit these conditions are key to create success mobile-friendly Web content.
What is specific to authoring for mobile devices?
Ideally, site authors would be able to meet the growing demand for a quality mobile experience without changing a line of code. But the reality is that a site designed specifically with mobility in mind will always provide a much better user experience to mobile users, even when they are equipped with the device du jour.
The reasons for that include the challenges posed by network costs and delays, memory and CPU limitations, keyboard and pointing devices differences. As importantly, they feature a growing set of advantages with their personal and always-available nature, and their increasingly context-aware capabilities.
As a result, the mobile experience often merit its own set of design considerations, as discussed in a growing body of literature, including W3C’s mobile Web authoring and device independent authoring guidelines. Mobile users operate in a very different usage context than PC users, and providing them with an experience customized to their needs is likely to be the best service to them.
A number of the barriers that mobile users face are similar to those experienced by people with disabilities. These similarities make it natural to aim at developing Web sites that are accessible both for people with disabilities and for mobile devices. The two reference documents in this space, theWeb Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)and the Mobile Web Best Practices have thus a number of links and similarities.
What technologies have been developed to fit mobile devices?
Over the past years, W3C has developed a number of Web technologies that explicitly take into account the specificities of mobile devices:
- CSS Mobile, a profile of the cascading style sheet language that matches the need of mobile Web authors
- SVG Tiny, a profile of the Web’s scalable vector graphics format well-suited to the capabilities of mobile devices
- XHTML For Mobile, which defines a subset of XHTML for mobile