These days most of us have a mobile phone and increasingly we have smart phones, giving us easy, fast and reliable internet access everywhere we go. Whether we check our Facebook or Twitter accounts in bed, read the news headlines in our coffee break or order our Chinese takeaway on the train home, we’re thoroughly addicted.
And whether you find this trend an amazing experience, or an irritating nuisance it is doubtless a fantastic opportunity for businesses to increase their online sales. With a 24/7 internet culture which goes everywhere (and I mean everywhere – you’ve got to know at least one person who takes their smartphone into the smallest room) businesses can now reach their customers in the most unlikely of places.
To take advantage of this irritating/ exciting phenomenon, businesses are developing mobile versions of their existing web sites, specifically created to be easily navigable on a range of smart phones. By ironing out the bugs traditional sites can throw up on mobile devices, you can maintain customer interest and keep them browsing your site and buying your products wherever they may be.
Speak to your web development company today about creating a mobile version of your website, throw in some strategic online marketing and wait for the sales to roll in. Just don’t ask your customers where they were when they clicked to buy…
As web designers our job is not only to create kick-ass web sites, but also to educate our clients in the ways of the internet and to explain to them the limitations we all have to abide by.
In this article I will outline some of the biggest issues that face web designers and developers across the world and help you realise why we do certain things the way we do.
1) Cross Browser Support
What’s a browser? Why is it angry? Let me explain..
A browser is the program your computer uses to view web sites and there are a number of different browsers you can choose from, the main contenders are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome etc. They all render websites in their own special way, which can alter how they appear to you.
In order to be provide you with a valid website we have to test each site in over 5 browsers and make sure it is not only looking right but also functioning correctly in each of them.
Add to this the fact that the companies who make these browsers will keep on updating them, putting multiple versions of multiple browsers into the mix. This makes the job of the web designer tricky to say the least!
One browser in particular has made our job more difficult over the past 9 years and that browser is little ol’ Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. Many of the biggest web sites in the world have now dropped support for this browser, as have many design agencies, so if you are using the dreaded Internet Explorer 6, it’s really time you upgraded.
2) Resolution Issues
I’m not about to confuse you with inane computer jargon so don’t worry, but I do have to mention the Resolution Issue which is cropping up more and more.
Have you ever thought “I want my home page not to scroll”
or “I want my web site to fill up the screen”?
When you say “screen”, web designers think “OK, is it a 17’, 19’, 21’ screen or bigger?
When you say “scroll”, we think “Not scrolling on your resolution? Or all resolutions and screen sizes?”
You see, its not just as easy as coding in HeightOfSite=100% its far more complicated than that.
What we have to do as web designers is come up with a happy medium whereby the site vertically scrolls as little as possible in as many resolutions and monitor sizes as possible. Getting it right for all screen resolutions and monitor sizes is a bit of a juggling act. The end result looks easy, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes!
As a side note, vertical scrolling is now second nature to internet users so it really has no bearing on the success of your new web site.
I hope you have found this article interesting and informative.
So remember, even if something seems easy to you, its probably not the case. You have hired the web designer so trust him or her to do their job properly.
Talking of which, my next post will feature handy tips on how to choose the right Web Design Agency for your next project.
Perhaps a bit harsh but this is something that has been plaguing Web Design Agencies for years, let me explain.
What is ‘Design-by-Committee’?
When a single goal or aim takes a back seat to ‘letting everyone have their say’.
When a group of two or more business owners have a vision to hire a design agency to build their new website, or redesign their old site, they all have their own ideas and thoughts on how it should look and work. They all put their ideas forward and come to a happy medium whereby all of their ideas are appeased and added to the initial brief.
The Designer in question has to take their brief and do all he/she can to please the members of the committee. This is nigh on impossible.
What we often end up with is a middle ground, whereby all members have had some of their input included but the site completely misses the initial goal or aim. This is where the original vision and purpose of the new web site has completely lost out to ‘pleasing the committee’.
This is a sure fire way to have a mish-mash of a design with flawed functionality.
Stick to the Plan
Whether the new site is to attract interest, sell products or even a first port of call for any new customer, make sure you stick to the plan!
The end-users are the most important thing to your site so think about what they would want, what would they want to see? It easy to say “Well that site has got that element, so I want it” but look beyond the obvious and think ‘Why have they got that?” and “Is it appropriate to my customers or potential customers”
Don’t ignore the ideas and skills of the designers/developers that YOU have hired.
Although they don’t know your business or industry they can often steer you in the right direction on how to communicate directly to you customers and potential customers. Listen to them.
Here is some further reading on Design-by-Committee and how to approach having a new web site or redesigning your existing site.
Nary a month on from the UK launch of the iPad it’s iPhone 4 day. Beyond the sight of people getting giddy over expensive consumer electronics the proliferation of mobile devices with all sorts of different resolutions and orientations raises the question of how best to serve web content that can be viewed as nature intended on all these devices. We’re not even past clients asking for pages that “fit on one screen” to which we invariably point to articles such as this – http://www.cxpartners.co.uk/thoughts/the_myth_of_the_page_fold_evidence_from_user_testing.htm – so how do we build for everyone ?
One answer are CSS media queries. Simply put these allow you to supply different CSS depending upon queries about the devices resolution and orientation. For more information see http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/04/using-css-media-queries-ipad.html and http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/