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Tools for Developing and Testing Device Agnostic Mobile Sites

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Shawn Gross, an integrated marketing communications specialist, writes, “Don’t obsess about the device, because there isn’t going to be one that ultimately wins.  Students have so many different devices: today’s might be a tablet, tomorrow it could be something else.  We can’t keep pace with how fast technology is changing, but the constant is that students have these devices.”  He was speaking specifically of the education field, but this just as easily applies to any industry.  Instead of focusing on the device when optimising for mobile, focus on the site itself.  A “device agnostic” approach can help you keep pace with whatever’s coming tomorrow.

If your idea of optimising for mobile is reformatting your site for a smaller screen, you may need to rethink your position because this will render much of your content illegible or missing.  A device agnostic approach is the best way to be recognized by search engines and viewed by actual users.  It simply means that your site is not designed solely for one device or platform; you don’t optimise for iPhone or Blackberry, but for all devices.

The reason is simple; your page will look different across platforms.  Different browsers configure pages in different ways, and you need to be sure you’re coming across loud and clear (and accurately and legibly).  Mobile searchers typically turn to search engines before device-specific applications. While applications designed solely for iPhone or Blackberry or Android are often excellent, you want to be more reachable if you depend on search traffic.

dotMobi’s Ronan Cremin says, “Brands can now build a single mobile Web presence that works across all mobile devices without the limitations, costs, and maintenance issues of multiple app platforms.  The mobile Web lets you address all of your mobile customers, not just those with iPhones and Android headsets.”  With new tools, it is relatively easy for businesses to develop these mobile sites.  Here is a look at a few that can help:

  • jqtouch. Developers can transfer their existing web applications into an agnostic interface.
  • JQmobile. This framework allows you to write a no-code web application.
  • Fluid Baseline Grid System.  This is an HTML5 and CSS3 development kit that allows you to make websites quickly with lightweight code.

It is also important to test sites before launch.  You can do this with emulators that allow you to see what your users will see on various devices.  Try:

  • IBBDemo2:  see what your iPhone users see.
  • Android SDK for Android users.
  • Blackberry emulators are available here.
  • dotMobi for common phones.
  • Nokia Browser simulator for Nokia and WAP gateway.
  • Opera Mini Simulator.
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