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Website for mobile - A Beginner's Guide.

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Mobile (cell) website - A Beginner's Guide.


The article series which I start today will step by step guide you to how to build web site for mobile devices. Probably you could ask: "what has it to do with Java"? It has actually much to do with it, because the content which presented can be generated by Java servlets/JSPs on server side.

And before your program will do that you have to know how it should look at client side.

Before all practical steps will be described it is necessary to understand the fundamental differences between usual site (which we browse on desktops mostly) and site which is made to browse on mobile devices, such as mobile (cell) phones, PDAs, Pocket PCs, etc.

You probably will try to skip this section and jump directly to mobile website creating process, but I need to warn you: Saving now a few minutes you will lose hours and days later, when will wonder why people never come back to your site or even leave before pages get load ed... Greedy man pays twice!

Client side: mobile phone vs. desktop display.

The biggest obstacle for mobile Internet is display sizes of most popular mobile devices. 128x160 or 176x220 are typical sizes of mobile phones today. More luxury, high end smartphones have 240x320 displays - still just a quarter of VGA display.

When last time have you used the VGA resolution on your PC. Probably when you were changing your video card and could not install driver properly Smile.  Probably you are agree that it is not funny to have VGA resolution on PC. Working area become extremely small and all most important buttons are outside of screen border.

I still remember how a few years ago I had one video driver which "Try new resolution" and "Apply New Resolution" buttons were outside of my screen. Finally, I found out that if I use "Tab" button after certain number of clicks the Windows moved focus to proper button and I could press those buttons. The experience of too small screen and "blind navigation" still makes me ice cold when I need to change my video card Smile.

The same problem people experience when visit "ordinary designed" web site on mobile device. If your device does not crash and not refuses to load page due to some problem, you will get 20-50 pages where first 10 pages will be headers from the site, then next 10 - left site navigation menu.

If you are still lucky, pages between page number 20 and number 30 will be content pages with big letters and pictures.  Then again 10 pages of right side navigation and big, big endless footer with all copyrights, counters, advertisements and so on.

So, to get real content, you need to get through at least 5-10 pages, then read it and browse back through the same "header pages" or type in the URL of start page.


If you are experienced "mobile Internet" user you probably will disable pictures and use only mobile adapted versions of sites or get all sites through Google's transcoder (Internet to Mobile Internet).

In last case Google will make your life much easier, but instead of real site you will get what Google's crawler sees valuable on the site - only content and no presentation, it will be clipped out. Big mess of text and links - recycle bin of the Internet Sad

In the next article I will review technologies and standards available to do usual web site design and design of mobile website.

P.S. English is not native language for me, I would like to hear your friendly critique Smile

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