Mobile Web Programming

Today is Wednesday, which means we’re half way done our week.  Unlike most companies, our “hump-day” doesn’t exist, there is no day right in the middle of the week, there’s just a few hours of sleep.  That means Wednesday is sort of like everyone’s Thursdays, where it’s a slow ride down hill, but still a lot has to be accomplished before the weekend.  The remainder of this week may be particularly slow going, considering we’re expected to have summer like weather on Friday, and really nice weather from now until then.  It is making me anxious for the weekend so I can start working on the outside part of my house maintenance.  I know, I’m weird, I like working on the house.  I think it’s because my weekdays are so cerebral that I need my weekends to do something physical or I get grumpy, so I look forward to it.  Case in point, this blog, I wanted to write about something code related, but already I’m a paragraph in to thinking about the weather…..

The latest news on the web regarding web programming, relates directly to a niche market that seems to not be panning out like some people thought.  For years people have been trying to get the ‘mobile web’ up and running, with special content designed specifically for browsing on mobile phones.  It appears that most people who can browse on mobile phones don’t, they are just not using the services like everyone once speculated.  But the market is still just beginning, we don’t really know where it’s going to go.   So the question is, do you need to design your website to be ‘mobile ready’?   Now I’m no expert, we have so far only had one client make any reference to wanting a mobile specific design, which hasn’t yet panned out because it’s essentially  designing several websites all at the same time.  With the new blackberry phones and the iPhone, there is a huge potential market out there for mobile web design, but how many people can afford to really use their cell phones to surf the web today?  With the new phones (mobile devices), and the generally better connectivity and cheaper mobile data plans from cell phone carriers, the ‘mobile’ web can continue to grow.  People can take their laptops, plug in a usb data connection that uses their mobile phone data connection.  Full laptop workstations because of flat rate data plans are more mobile than ever, but they don’t need a special design. The blackberry and iPhone do have smaller screens, but it can provide the same content as a full browser, you just can’t see it all if the design is meant specifically for larger screens.  Even the new gaming systems can browse just fine.  There are several new products out there like flash lite and java lite that are built specifically for the blackberry and iPhone type users.  But who’s going to use this if most of the content being served to the mobile users are just blogs?

So my point is, look to mobility for the future where the screens may be smaller, but continue to program for usability where you expect your current and future clients will be working with the system.  Take mobile users into account for your apps, but realize that it’s no longer a system of having to use special keys and predictive text to get mobile work done.  The mobile web is still out there, and it’s going to be interesting to see just where it goes.