Mobile Website Development

Here is a comparison chart that I give my classes when showing them the difference between developing for the internet and mobile web. I will be showing this chart this year at AECT during my presentation on mobile learning:

 

•Many columns/tables->1 Column
•Defined Width->% Width
•High speed->3G/4G
–Data Usage problems
•Large Screens->small screens
•Keyboard->touch screen/small keyboard
•Html->wml | html/flash->html/html5/c++/Java
•Very compatible ->Device type (unless html)
•Plug ins->limited
Please see my video which discusses these in more detail: http://raypastore.com/wordpress/2012/04/mobile-website-design-guidelines/

Mobile App VS Mobile Websites

Here is some useful information on the topic that I recently gathered to do a presentation on a mobile learning study I am working on at AECT:

Apps

–Need to be installed
–Can be on OS
–Device dependent
Browsers

–Can be used on any phone with internet
–Not on OS

Development:

•Google Android
     –Java Programming

•iPod/iPhone/iPad
     –C, C++

•Other Options?

     –Android
          •Google App Inventor
          •Flash
          •HTML

     –Apple
          •HTML

     –All phones (apple, android, blackberry, windows)
          •HTML and HTML5

How do I make my Android phone faster?

Has your phone been getting slower? Does it take a few more seconds than normal get to a screen ie sticks? Well there are a few things you can do make your phone much faster. I recently took my Droid 1 and made it nearly new again. Here are a few simple steps to make your phone fast:

1. Get rid of all apps you do not use

2. Get rid of task killer apps. Android 2.1 and later does NOT need these. They take up and waste memory.

3. Use widgets sparingly. They take up a lot of memory. I actually got rid of all of mine except the google search bar and power setting widget. My weather widget was taking a lot of memory.

4. Power off phone once a week.

5. Take the battery out of the phone once a week.

6. Check to see what apps are running and stop them if you are not using them. To do this go to menu->settings->applications->running services

7. Delete all your texts. Using too much space can bog the phone.

8. Clear your internet cache.

9. If you are really desperate you can do a system reboot. This will wipe the phone clean and you need to reinstall everything. I would only do this if you have the time to reinstall or you are having major phone problems.

You can buy mobile apps from Amazon?

Yep, if you have an Android based phone. Amazon.com has an app store where you can buy your apps. You can buy them there instead of the google marketplace. What is the advantage? Well there are a few:

1. You only need to buy once then can put on all your devices. So if your wife buys an app, you can install it as well.

2. Amazon offers a free paid app everyday. So an app that normally costs money might be free. You have to check everyday though. I have found some really good apps that cost $15 for free. Its well worth checking everyday.

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b?ie=UTF8&node=2350149011

Mobile Apps: Does my business need an app?

I have been doing a lot of experimentation with apps lately. For instance, this semester I had my students develop apps for the Android OS and build mobile websites, I have been in contact with several app develop companies, and I have been doing research studies on mobile use, development, and usability. After all of this I have concluded the following:

At this point in time I do NOT believe most companies and/or websites should invest in mobile applications, instead I believe they should invest in a mobile website. There are several reasons why I believe this. And for the record, I have extensively used and developed for Droid, iPad, and iPod touch.

1. Usability – The main problem with building an app: It only works on ONE operating system. So if I build it for the Apple iPhone it will NOT work for anyone who has a Droid, Windows Phone, Blackberry, or other. By building an app, I have just eliminated a huge portion of my user base. If I build a mobile website, it works on ALL devices. Why? They all have a browser. So developing one mobile website will work on all devices thus giving me full access to everyone regardless of their phone choice. Additionally, I can make a mobile website to look and function exactly as an app would.

2. Clutter – My droid and iPod each have 3-5 screens filled with apps. I use maybe 5-10 app consistently. The other apps are just taking up space most of the time. When I do want to use one of the apps that I rarely use or a new one, it becomes a chore to find it, or to download it. I do NOT want several hundred apps on my phone. The desktop on my computer is a mess with all of the files, folders, and programs, why can’t my phone just be simple? A website would solve this problem, Why? A mobile website would either be a web address, for instance, m.raypastore.com or the user could make it a bookmark on their browser if they like it. Thus, no clutter unless I have a million bookmarks.

3. Cost – Developing an app can be expensive. They are not easy to develop, thus you are going to have to hire programmers and graphic artists to develop it. This may not be a problem for larger companies that have spare cash. Another problem with COST: I do NOT want to pay for apps. I will NOT pay for apps. Usually I can find the same information or service online for FREE and ALL smart phones have a web browser. A mobile website is significantly cheaper to develop than a mobile app. This is because the development is much much easier. In fact, in one semester, my students were able to develop very nice mobile sites and they did not need to program anything. They simply used Dreamweaver. Now I will mention that if you are building website that is big and includes a lot of advanced things like a database and such, it can be just as expensive or more than an app.

4. Development Time – Since apps are not easy to develop, it is going to take significantly longer to develop than a website. Mobile websites usually have a faster turn around time due to the fact that they are easier to develop. HTML is much easier to program and develop with than C++. Again though, this depends on the features you want on the website.

5. Coolness factor – It’s a fad these days to have an app. You know the saying ‘There’s an app for that’. Sure there is an app but half of the apps I download are not very useful and take up storage space on my phone. There are other ways to say ‘my company is mobile friendly’ such as advertising ‘visit us on your mobile device at: youwebaddress’ or users can even go to your main site and you direct them to your mobile version without them even knowing. Imagine that though, visit us on your mobile device, not visit us on your iphone, or droid. You are now advertising to all mobile users, not a portion of them and that is the real power to a mobile website.

I hope this article was useful. I do think mobile apps are a fad and the mobile web is a much better place to make your mark right now. When apps begin working on all devices and become easier to develop I may change my mind, however at this point in time, mobile websites are simply much better.

 

Developing a website for the mobile web

This semester my students had the chance to explore the iPod touch as we had won several as part of a grant to explore mobile learning and mobile development in the classroom. As part of my computer based instruction course students were assigned to develop computer based instruction that was viewable on any mobile device, thus they had to use a web browser as apps are device dependent.

This is most certainly different than developing for a PC or regular monitor. A few rules we learned throughout this semester were:

Use One Column only
Make Text legible without the need to zoom
Have navigation on the top of the screen
Use a header, body, footer within the single column framework

When developing for a phone, for instance the iphone (but they are all nearly the same), you have two options.

1. Develop using a small screen size –

What does this mean? It means to develop a site that is around 400×400 pixels so that you can get a good idea what the site will look like on the mobile device. However, if you do this, you need to include this line of code in your <head> tags: <meta name="viewport" content="width=400"></head>. This line tells the phone that your page is 400 pixels, otherwise it will go to the default, which leads to lots of white space and then to the next option....

2. Develop at a large size

Why do this? Well it doesn’t rely on the one line of code at the top. However, to do this you need to develop a ‘big’ website. Phones compress a page at 980 pixels in width. This means that a standard 980 pixel page is very small when viewed on a website. So you need make a 980 pixel page that is big. This means that font should be 40+ in size. In fact, a font size of 72 pixels looks really good. It is a challenge to develop like this but one that is worth exploring.

These are a few of the lessons learned this semester, more to come soon:)