5 simple rules for creating mobile-savvy websites

It's not hard to give smartphone and tablet users compelling access to your sites -- so get started

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Chances are that you site also uses Adobe Flash videos. Although all popular desktop browser support the plug-in for this format, only Android OS 2.2 currently supports it for mobile. Thus, most smartphones and tablets can't render Flash videos (it's not just an iOS issue).

It's not sensible to stop displaying existing Flash videos to your desktop and Android 2.2 users, but you shouldn't add any more Flash videos to your website. You should also use your JavaScript and CSS to determine to remove Flash videos from mobile devices' Web pages -- it's cruel to tease readers with videos they can't play. Over time, you should switch your videos to a format such as H.264 for which most HTML5-capable browsers (that is, the popular desktop and mobile ones today) will have codecs.

5. Give users a way to access the full desktop version
Many users don't like sites to reconfigure themselves automatically to better fit the mobile experience; they want the full desktop version regardless of the device's capabilities. Fine -- give them an option to switch to the desktop site. If you want to be really sophisticated, save a cookie indicating their preference, so they automatically get what they chose the next time they come to your site. (You can implement the cookies via server-level Apache or on-page JavaScript or PHP, as you prefer.) Just be sure to let them change their mind later through a consistent Mobile Settings link on your pages.

Embrace mobile by embracing standards
Sure, you could pay a service to parse and scrape your existing website or suck in its RSS feeds, and then generate a mobile version. But this approach both costs you ongoing money and results in a canned experience that's rarely satisfying. It simply makes more sense to use the standard Web technologies to (re)design your website to be mobile-savvy. If you do it at the template level, you can quickly make your site -- or at least huge swaths of it -- mobile-friendly.

As more and more folks adopt tablets and smartphones, websites need to anticipate their usage.

This article, "5 simple rules for creating mobile-savvy websites," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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