If Mobile Devices Require Special Websites, Why Does My Website Look Perfectly Fine On My iPhone?

In our previous blog post, we discussed some of the technical limitations of mobile devices and how these limitations often require a mobile website. Mobile websites are often designed to be streamlined; the graphics are pared down, resources are limited and the interfaces are usually designed around a touch interface. But do you need a mobile website if your desktop website already fits most or all of these requirements?

If you have spent any amount of time surfing the World Wide Web, you are already aware that websites come in a vast array of designs and configurations. You have probably also noticed that some websites load quickly while others are bloated and clunky, either by necessity or through poor design choices. Some websites feature simple designs that use basic web technologies like HTML and CSS while others have complex, animated designs that utilize Flash and Javascript. If you have a website for your business or organization that is simple, streamlined and optimized, you might not need a mobile website.

Are There Tools Available To Test How “Mobile-Friendly” My Website Really Is?

If you aren’t fully sure that your current website is sufficiently mobile-friendly, there are a number of online tools that you can easily use to test it.

How to make your website work across multiple devices.

Google, the developer of the Android mobile operating system and “Nexus” mobile devices, offers a suite of tools to “Make Your Websites Work Across Multiple Devices”.

Assessing Mobile Readiness

If you are looking for a more technical assessment of your current website or if you want to check the validity of an existing website, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offers the mobileOK Checker. This checker will run various tests, defined in the W3C mobileOK Basic Tests 1.0 specification, and will offer a “mobileOK” when a website passes all of the included tests. The W3C bills itself as “an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.” The head of the W3C is Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web! Needless to say, the W3C is a definite authority on the World Wide Web and websites in general, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your website is not mobile-friendly if it doesn’t pass all of the W3C’s mobileOK tests. However, if the checker determines there are “Critical” or “Severe” failures in the test, you may want to investigate further and determine if these problems can be easily fixed for your mobile visitors.

The administrators of the dotMobi domain (.mobi) have launched a mobile testing tool at Ready.Mobi.  This tool will check a single page of your website using the dotMobi compliance test, the W3C mobileOK tests detailed in the previous paragraph and includes detailed error reports. This tool is the most comprehensive of the tools available, but it requires registration at another dotMobil website in order to test more than one page at a time.

Just take a look!

Finally, the most effective way to test your website can be the old-fashioned way – with a live test using real mobile phones as opposed to emulators and checkers. If you have a smartphone, bring up your website on your mobile browser start navigating. If you have an iPhone, an iPod or an Android phone or tablet, try to find a colleague or friend that has a different phone and test your website again. Make a list of any features, images or other elements that are broken or missing. If your website is completely unusable on multiple devices, it may be time to start working on a dedicated mobile website.

Before you invest time and resources in creating a mobile website, you should determine if your existing website is mobile-friendly. If a majority of mobile users can view your website and access the contents successfully, a mobile website may not be necessary.