Christopher Bennage

not all who wander are lost

Being a New Kid on the Mobile Block

The last few weeks I’ve been trying get a finger on the pulse of mobile web development. I wanted to identify the thought leaders, understand the big questions, and (perhaps mostly importantly) begin cataloging the practical considerations for building mobile experiences today.

Here’s where I’m at so far…

What is ‘the mobile web’?

The definition of mobile web is quickly evolving. Devices are varied and the distinctions are blurring. If you think it’s as simple as iOS, Android, and Windows then you’ll be surprised. (I do genuinely love my WP7). Personally, I think the distinction between mobile and desktop is fading more and more everyday. When I say mobile web I am talking about HTML-based applications and not applications that are built natively for their respective platforms. Of course, there is debate over native apps versus web apps: when is one appropriate over the over? etc, etc. This is a question when intend to address in Project Liike.

Who to follow?

I’ve been following a mishmash of people, and I must confess that my process of qualifying them has been some haphazard. I’m compiling a list on twitter. A number of folks on this list are signatories of future

Other sources I’ve been paying attention to are:

  • A List Apart – “For people who make websites.”
  • Smashing Magainze – Lots of articles on design, web, and of course mobile.
  • Cloud Four – Many recent and thorough posts exploring some of the big questions in mobile.
  • Yiibu – They have a lot of interesting ideas, and they’ve done some impressive work for Nokia.

I’ve also been reading through Programming the Mobile Web by Maximiliano Firtman. The first few chapters are pretty scary for someone like myself who did not understand how diverse and scattered the mobile world is. (It’s also funny to see how much has changed since the book was published in 2010.)

Anything you’d recommend?

The state of things

Caveat: This is just Christopher’s brain dump. Consider it merely food for thought.

  • There are many compeling reasons for developing mobile web apps. Not to the complete exclusion of native apps, but maybe?
  • You need to understand your target market and the devices that it uses. Don’t make assumptions. You might be surprised.
  • The space is changing, standards are evolving, solutions are being formulated. However, if you need to you need build an app today, there is still plently of pragmatic advice.

One more thought: don’t jump to conclusions. You might read about something cool like Responsive Web Design, but such cool and innovative techniques can be deceptive. Research and testing is your friend.