Mobile Web App Development: Are We Doing It Properly?

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The work of a regular web development agency is changing. Mobile web apps are becoming central to all development projects and the range of quality browsers on mobile devices from Mobile Chrome to Mobile Safari means the rise of the mobile web app is upon us.

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Mobile Web App Development: Are We Doing It Properly?

  1. 1. Mobile Web App Development: Are We Doing It Properly?The work of a regular web development agency is changing. Mobile web apps are becoming central toall development projects and the range of quality browsers on mobile devices from Mobile Chrome toMobile Safari means the rise of the mobile web app is upon us.More and more online products are being created with a mobile version and this is usually a scaleddown version of the desktop product. The main website has been optimised for the smaller screen andtakes into account touch screen capabilities. The mobile web apps differ from a mobile version of awebsite because they have been tailor-made for the mobile device, rather than scaled down from thedesktop version. To understand how to develop into a productive mobile app development agency it isfirst essential to understand the difference between mobile and desktop.Mobile versus DesktopThere are four main differences between mobile platforms and the desktop version:1. Smaller screens mean a whole new range of development and design challenges2. Mobile device hardware is smaller and less resource-rich than desktop hardware3. Touchscreen technology gives developers more scope and freedom than traditional inputmethods4. Mobile device connectivity isn’t always as reliable and therefore data transfer can be slowerAlthough these points sound problematic they simply mean more scope and creativity is required inyour web development projects. Below is a closer look at some development considerations to build thebest possible mobile web app.Small File SizesEverything mobile needs is to be smaller. This means smaller file sizes to handle the problems that occurwith connectivity. Quicker experiences result in a more positive user experience and therefore keepyour files small so pages can be loaded and engaged with as quickly as possible.Handling Image PerformanceImages need to be avoided wherever possible. They simply take up too much space and often don’t addmuch to the content the user requires. Where images are essential the following methods can be usedto minimise their size.Fireworks for Transparent .PNG filesAdobe Fireworks has the nifty little trick of allowing you to export 8-bit PNGs. This is somethingPhotoShop can’t do but you can simply open your regular 24-bit PNG in Fireworks and use thecompression settings to set it to 8-bit with alpha transparency – ideal for mobile web app usage.
  2. 2. Keep it simple with ImageAlphaImageAlpha is even simpler than Fireworks and allows you to drag your images into its main window andbe tweaked to trim all excess data from the file.Embrace CSS3Mobile web browsers are much further advanced than they used to be and therefore developmentsbuilt using CSS3 are the norm. CSS3 allows developers to render elements through code wherepreviously an image would have been necessary. Colour gradients, drop shadows and the application ofmultiple backgrounds to HTML elements can be handled with ease and in a way which can help boostthe performance of interface and speed up loading times. CSS3 also reduces the data transferparticularly of images and excess HTML mark-up.Understand Hardware AccelerationWith the sheer number of Apple device users it pays to listen to their latest innovations. HardwareAcceleration is a feature of Safari 5 and it means that the browser can use additional hardware devicecapabilities to enhance the rendering of graphics, which should result in improved speedier userinterfaces.Hardware acceleration isn’t limited to Apple however and other brands including Firefox, Google andOpera have shared their support for the concept, which suggests they’ll soon incorporate it into theirbrowsers too. This could revolutionise the way we render graphics for mobile users.Offline MattersWhen your users are reliant on unstable internet connections it pays to have an offline user experienceplanned too. This means offering them some sort of engagement even when they aren’t online, usuallythrough HTML5 offline data storage means. Utilising this means that data is downloaded which allowsfor files to be cached locally and therefore even when there’s no connection data can still be saved.All these elements pulled together should result in mobile web app development which you can beproud of and exceed your end-user’s expectations.

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