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Every day, the number of people accessing the internet via their smart phones and other mobile devices (such as I Pads and tablets) is growing. Many believe that it won’t be long before this is the norm in terms of surfing the net, leaving desktop computers and even laptops far behind. Because of this, it is important that all companies focus on mobile web design.
Whilst it is possible to create a website specifically for mobile devices, it is also possible to make a single site (known as a responsive one) that can be accessed appropriately on all devices. Simply creating a design that can be viewed on a smart phone is not enough, however; you need to test the site out and make sure that it works on these smaller devices and platforms.
This can be achieved with the assistance of mobile emulators, which allow you to check the site’s responsiveness and functionality across a variety of platforms. Some of the better emulators out there include: ‘Mobi Ready’ (which also allows you to check dot Mobi compliance); ‘Screen fly’ (which covers a variety of platforms); and ‘Responsive’ (which allows you to check responsiveness).
The other great thing about using an emulator to test your mobile website design rather than the devices themselves is that they provide you with free feedback regarding the functionality and responsiveness of your site. They also ensure that you can test the design on all platforms and devices without having to actually go out and buy them, which will save you money.
Think about the last time you looked something up on your mobile phone – did you keep hitting the wrong link or button when you were trying to navigate the site? This is a clear sign that the designer or developer has little experience with mobile web design, as they have failed to take into account the fact that fingers need a large target size for clicking.
But how big do these targets need to be to ensure that touchscreen users can navigate the website in relative ease? Even though developer guidelines for these sorts of features do exist, these guidelines don’t seem to be consistent with each other. When Apple says that they expect a minimum target size of 44 x 44 pixels and Nokia says that they will accept a minimum of 28 x 28 pixels, you can see why there is a problem.
Would you be surprised to learn, then, that both of these recommendations are entirely too small for most fingers? The average index finger size is around 45 to 57 pixels square, whilst the average thumb is about 72 pixels square. If you are working to the recommendations provided by Apple, your users will probably find that they are still experiencing the same problems.
As mobile web design becomes more and more popular, it is imperative that you take into account the target sizes that you are using. When testing how the design works, ask yourself whether you would struggle to press links and use the navigation or whether you would find it fairly easy. If you think that you would still struggle, you should consider making targets bigger.