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24 ways to impress your friends

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Aral Balkan

Hey Sarah,

First off, great article. I was just talking to Jeremy about this very issue a few days ago.

The important point here is to highlight how media queries are not always the right solution to implementing a mobile site. Fluid sites that morph into their mobile skins as they are resized on a desktop machine definitely pack wow factor (see Andy Clarke’s site for Hardboiled Web Design, for example) and yet, you have to ask yourself whether you are designing the site to impress desktop users when they resize their browser windows or to provide the best possible user experience for mobile users. If it’s the latter, than serving up mobile-optimized content to mobile users may be the better choice, especially if your main site content is heavy on graphics or code.

I agree with Simon’s comment that redirecting users to a separate page is not the best way of implementing this but it is just as simple to serve separate content per page/screen for mobile users.

So, for an iPhone-specific example, something along the lines of:

	$agent = $_SERVER[‘HTTP_USER_AGENT’];
	if (ereg(”(iPhone|iPod)”, $agent)) 

Also, I find it either incredibly arrogant, naive, or simply devoid of understanding of user experience to suggest that it is somehow unforgivable to create a version of a site specifically optimized for the most popular smart phone in the world.

Providing an exemplary user experience requires focus. You cannot provide a great user experience by designing for the lowest common denominator.

Furthermore, you have to ask yourself not only how much actual web-browsing is being carried on non-smartphones (hint: not much) but also how many of the people browsing the web on other devices are in your target audience. It may just be that, for your target audience, it’s important to support a lowest-common-denominator mobile site that works on any Nokia dumbphone. It’s an equally-valid possibility, however, that (based on your target market, budget, and schedule) it makes more sense to focus on providing a beautiful user experience on a single mobile platform.