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Tip #10: Design for Multiple Phones

When designing a mobile website, it’s tempting to focus your mobile efforts on Apple’s iPhone, as it so dominates the consumer smartphone market. But the iPhone isn’t the only web-enabled phone on the market; in fact, it only has a 28% share of the smartphone market, let alone the market for all web-enabled phones. If you focus on the iPhone exclusively, you’ll be ignoring more than three-quarters of the potential mobile market.

This leads to the pain of making sure your site can be displayed at a variety of screen sizes, shapes, and resolutions. Some mobile screens are tall and skinny, some are short and long, some are perfectly square. And resolution varies from 128 x 160 all the way to the iPhone 4’s 960 x 640 pixels. It’s tough to make a single site look good on all these different displays.

The best solution, then, is probably to keep your mobile site as clean and simple as possible, to maximize the viewing experience across multiple mobile platforms. Alternatively, you can design one site for iPhones and another for other mobile devices. In any case, you have to take multiple phones into account.

Bonus Tip: Think Like the User!

Here’s a bonus tip. When it comes to determining what you put on a mobile page, you need to think like the user. The goal is to know what your visitors are looking for on your mobile site, and then present that content in an easy-to-find fashion.

This is important for any website, of course, but more so for a mobile site, where you don’t have a lot of screen real estate to work with. You can’t present multiple tunnels into your content; you have to determine the one best way and present it front and center. That means knowing, not guessing, what the mobile visitor deems important. If it’s not there on that first small page, most visitors won’t stick around to hunt for it.

In addition, know that the mobile web surfer is more time constrained that the user sitting in front of a computer screen in their home or office. Mobile users are, most often, mobile -- that is, they’re accessing the web while they’re on the go. They need to get their information quickly, so they can get on with whatever it is else they’re doing. (Like driving their car or walking down the street...) They’re surfing in a very directed fashion. Don’t make them work for that information; give them what they need as quickly as possible.

Think like someone who’s actually using your site – and give those mobile users what they want and need.

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