Once upon a time you could pretty much guarantee that visitors to your website would be sitting at ‘a computer’ — either at a desk, or using a laptop.
Every day now the chances are greater that visitors are using a Smartphone, or a similar device such as an iPad. Those visitors may also be ‘out and about’, on the bus, at a friend’s house, in a shop.
It’s now very common for people to use Smartphones or iPads to visit websites. If they have problems using the site they may:
- leave the site and never come back.
- feel anger or resentment about the organisation with the ‘troublesome’ site.
A Smartphone is a mini-computer
A Smartphone is more than just a regular cellphone, in a few important ways:
- It has a larger screen than an ordinary cellphone.
- It easily handles web browsing.
- Downloads such as PDFs, Word files and others may not work. (Although both PDF and Word did work when I tested with my iPhone.)
A Smartphone probably also has specialised Applications for sending email, using Twitter or Facebook, perhaps reading QR Codes, and much more.
Some websites create specific ‘apps’ to display the content from their website. One example is the Discovery News app for iPhone. It allows users to see the latest headlines, read the stories and view the pictures without actually using a web browser.
Different from a regular web browser
A Smartphone usually sees web pages a bit differently from a desktop computer though:
- The screen is smaller, and although you can zoom in, it can initially be harder to see some items.
- When you do zoom in, you can see only a small portion of the web page.
- Pudgy fingers can have trouble touching on links, and sometimes hit the wrong one.
- Some software such as Flash may not work at all.
What this means for your website
You should find some people with Smartphones — ask friends and neighbours, or go to a shop that sells them — and try visiting several parts of your own website.
Depending on the nature of your website too, you might also consider whether to make a specialised ‘app’ for it.
Does your site work well with a Smartphone?
Will it make friends or enemies out of your visitors?
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, July 2010. This article has been modified for publication here.