Tips to designing mobile friendly websites

• Keep it simple. Flash is, for now, still only a dream on most phones. Animated graphics interchangeable format (GIF) images are probably your best bet if you want movement, but make sure the main message is contained in the first frame, as this at least will be displayed.

• Stay away from tables. Most devices will ignore tables, and content will get completely scrambled. Use lists where possible.

• Use enough links. Have sufficient links at the top and bottom of each page to easily navigate to other pages on the site, and don’t try to cram too much content onto a page. Unless you have a touch-screen device, scrolling using the keypad is never much fun.

• Keep it portrait oriented. As most devices are still only able to display content in portrait mode, it is important to keep horizontal scrolling down to a minimum—avoid it completely if possible. Some browsers may resize content to fit the width of the screen, so keep this in mind—it might distort the graphical impact. Depending on requirements, aligning content to the left or center of the screen works quite well.

• Keep images as small as possible. Most graphical editing tools have a “save for Web or devices” option—use this when possible.

• Avoid transparency. Hover effects on anchor tags are not supported for the most part and making use of the “background-image” directive is bound to give problems on a number of devices.

• Use JavaScript and Ajax sparingly. Even though a couple of WAP browsers have been “supporting” JavaScript for a while now, it is still advised to use it sparingly, if at all.

One Web

“One Web” refers to ensuring, as far as possible, that the same information and content is available to Web users, regardless of the device they are using to access the Web. So while Web sites should be optimized for presentation on various devices, proponents of “one Web” would argue that the actual content should not be different.

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) publishes guidelines for mobile Web standards as well as for regular Web standards. These can be accessed at


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