Designing the User Interface
The single most important task for regular readers of a blog is to get the latest list of posts. The classic approach of displaying the content of multiple posts on the first page wouldn’t work well with mobile devices:
- Even short posts appear long on a narrow screen; displaying dozens of posts on a single page doesn’t make sense.
- It’s difficult to scroll when the only scrolling mechanism is pressing the small arrow keys on your phone.
- The Internet connections used by mobile devices are usually slower than those on desktop computers. Downloading a large amount of content thus takes longer than you would expect. Additionally, in some environments, mobile devices have pay-per-usage billing plans, so downloading can be expensive.
Therefore, I’ve decided to include on the first page just the name of the blog, a very simple navigation line, and the titles of the 10 latest posts (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 First page of a mobile-friendly blog.
The user interface has only four more pages, all as simple as the one in Figure 1:
- List of categories discussed in the blog
- List of monthly archives
- List of posts matching desired criteria (all posts belonging to a category or all posts from the selected month)
- Contents of a single post (see Figure 2)
Figure 2 Contents of a single post.
As you can see, the design focuses exclusively on providing as much content as possible to readers with limited screen sizes—avoiding images, sidebars, backgrounds, or any other design elements that would decrease readability or increase download time. I’ve also decided not to offer any input-related functionality such as comments. Although some PDA users write significant amounts of text on their devices, not many mobile phone users (from my generation, at least) would be willing to dedicate time to writing a legible comment from a phone keypad.