In previous posts we have discussed the growing popularity of mobile devices and the different types of related user behaviors. Now that we are getting excited about the possibilities, it is a good time to talk about some of the limitations. I suppose it's obvious that mobile devices have smaller screens than our wide-screen, flat panel monitors with our desktops, but what does that mean for a mobile website design? It means we have less real estate to work with. We need to limit the amount of content we put on this website simply for the fact that it won't fit on the screen. Think of what is really important for your mobile users to see and constrict it to that. Screen size narrows our navigation as well – a vertical navigation works better for mobile web than horizontal does. Say bye bye to those wonderful detailed forms on your desktop website, too. There's just not enough room on a mobile device. Not to mention, mobile users don't have the time or patience to fill out long forms, unless their thumbs can type 100 words per minute. Speed and accessibility are other limitations that we need to consider. We have to restrict graphics and image file sizes because it takes our mobile devices longer to download them. Some of this comes inherently from designing for a small screen, but the speed of our wireless connection also dictates how big our files can be too. Can you hear me now? Just because our iPhone is permanently attached to our being doesn't mean that it's permanently attached to the internet – "Hold on honey, I'm going through a valley." Wireless hasn't fully figured out Flash, JavaScript, and some other web technologies, but wait until tomorrow and that will change. The same goes for video. Watching video on mobile devices can sometimes be pleasant while at other times painful. What other limitations with mobile technology can you think of? I hope these limitations haven't frustrated you too much. I'm sure Steve Jobs will figure out an iPhone application to relieve you of all the stress that comes from the limitations of mobile web. In our next post we'll talk about the approach to getting your mobile site on the web and why you should do it sooner than later.

Categories: Marketing, Web Development
Tags: Flash, JavaScript, limitations, mobile website, video