Distribute the same content across different devices. Choose whether content is available on web, mobile or both. With almost 5% of browsers now on mobile devices you can no longer ignore this market.

Mobile PloneWith over 100,000,000 iPhones sold and nearly as many Android and other very capable hand held devices online it is now impossible to ignore the mobile market when you build your website.

The mobile devices now collectively are achieving nearly 5% of all web browsers – http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php

This statistic is even more prominent if your site targets younger generations or a mobile market and will only increase rapidly from now on. So if you are planning to build a new site, revamp your old site or just wondering if you need to re-visit your web strategy you should be seriously considering how to deal with mobile devices.

There are a few key points to consider:

  1. iPhones/iPads don’t support Flash – Apple has made a bold decision to not support Flash in any mobile devices. This has lead to a major industry dilema when trying to develop interactive content. Your alternatives are JavaScript which is reasonably capable but not ideally suited to the task and HTML5 which is still emerging and not adopted by all browsers. At the moment JavaScript is probably your best option but in a few years HTML5 will likely be the best option so get ready for more redesigns in the years to come.
  2. Touch screens require a different navigation – while many of the new devices are getting better and better and rendering a full website on a small screen, it is still very clumsy to navigate traditional website menus with a finger pointer. Most sites that really depend on the mobile market are being significantly restructured for mobile devices. Take a look at realestate.com.au or caresales.com.au on an iPhone to see the difference a good mobile skin makes
  3. Location specific – most mobile devices now also carry GPS functionality which make it possible to feed location data back to the website. It is now easier than ever to automatically detect your viewer’s location and present local content, the nearest store/outlet/office or even just record where your visitors come from.
One of the benefits of building your website on a Content Management System such as Plone is that it becomes relatively easy to re-publish your content in different forms. Plone authoring tools enforce a strict separation of content and style when building content and they also enforce well structured menus and navigation. For many Plone users the benefits of this have not been apparent until now. However those who now want to take advantage of the mobile market are ideally positioned because their site content can now be automatically re-published in different forms.

A new product called Plone Web and Mobile http://webandmobile.mfabrik.com/tour can help with the process. It allows Plone to auto detect the viewers browser and it preforms some of the main content reformatting tasks automatically. In most cases this product can be installed on an existing Plone site and with a few hours of configuration it will work for all standard Plone content types. If you have custom content some additional coding may be required to make them work but it is certainly a much better option than rebuilding your site from scratch.

If you would like to make sure your site is ready for the mobile market please contact us for a review of your current site or new site needs.