With more people accessing blogs and websites from smartphones, content owners need to check out their existing page designs to ensure they are “smartphone friendly” — optimized for mobile usage. By that I mean: usable on a smartphone without requiring a magnifying glass to read or navigate them. Blogs and websites that aren’t just a “minimized version” of the original content.
Some navigation schemes work poorly or not at all for people with fat fingers. People with bifocals or those over 40 may have trouble reading tiny type…
Photos or videos intended for viewing on a laptop or desktop PC may download slowly, or be difficult to see if not optimized for mobile viewing.
How Best to Optimize Mobile Content?
If you’re a business or content owner like me, you will need a way to adapt to a growing array of devices with divergent requirements — without increasing the time you must devote to your blog or website. This may not be a pressing problem today, but when mobile access starts to exceed 50% of your audience, the problem will become urgent.
(If you earn your living designing and developing blogs or websites for others, Halleluja! You’ve just stumbled on a new revenue stream.)
It’s impractical tackle these mobile optimization requirements on a post-by-post or page-by-page basis. Instead content owners need a smarter, more modern technical platform to handle this for the blog or website as a whole. The smart way to tackle web + mobile optimization is by using a design strategy called “responsive web designs.”
Assuming you’re not a web developer by trade, you also want a platform that handles the heavy-lifting for you, without requiring you to make extensive use of hand-coded scripts…
WordPress Users, Rejoice
If you use WordPress to manage your blog or website, there’s a new tool in the offing that can simplify your adoption of a responsive web design strategy. Check out Headway Themes. (Pricing ranges from $68 to $378, depending on the options.)
Their upcoming release, Headway 3.0.5, aims to tackle some of the core layout challenges: enabling the designer or technically savvy blogger to turn fixed-layout designs into flexible or “responsive web layouts.” (Read the book Responsive Web Design if you want a deeper understanding of this topic as a whole.)
Headway experts discuss the new functions in a screencast here; note that the responsive web demo takes place at about the 8-minute mark… (Caution: this video and discussion are intended for people already familiar with Headway.)
How Headway (or WordPress, for that matter) will simplify the task of serving up the optimal media for each device is still unclear to me at this point, beyond the fact that it will involve the use of “media queries.”
A Good First Step
Whether or not Headway has the perfect solution in Q1 2012, I’m relieved that the WordPress developer community has begun to tackle some of the challenges presented by rapid adoption of mobile web access. Their efforts should eventually make it easier for content owners to adapt content for optimal viewing across a broad gamut of devices.
At present <5% of my blog visitors arrive here via a smartphone. This gives me time to experiment with WordPress and Headway (or others), try different approaches using an experimental site, and be ready with a solid solution once mobile traffic becomes significant.
In the meantime I look forward to some hands-on testing to see what’s involved in optimizing for mobile web visitors.