About a month or two ago I took on the task of developing the Jobs.co.za mobile(m.jobs.co.za). For those of you that don’t know. I work for Jobs.co.za. A Job Portal like no other. We do a lot of cool stuff. A topic for a whole ‘nother post. With the barrage of mobile web frameworks out there it was easy to make a decision on which one to use. Non of them. I’m a fan of mobile frameworks but I believe they have their place on the mobile web. They are perfect for “mobile web applications” where your target is more likely smart phone users(iPhone, Androids). But we decided to target your everyday Tom, Dick and Harry. Or is it Thabo, Pule and Jabu. Whatever your school of thought. But at the same time you don’t want to compromise your high end user’s experience.
No device capability detection
There is no device capability detection libraries like Wurfl or Device Atlas. These are really awesome tools. I’ve only ever used Wurfl in the past. It gives you all kinds of details from screen width to supported images. But I personally think if you can do it without them then do it. So the approach I took was to develop an “adaptive site”. So instead of trying to get the device’s width and adjust time the web pages width, I simple gave it a width of 100%. Which means it will grow and shrink with the device.
There are no absolute measures like px, pt and so forth. The problem with these measures is that 1px to a Nokia’s screen will not look the same as 1px on an iPhone’s screen. So all dimensions are defined using the em unit of measurement. This means that the font-size will be defined in relation to the device its being viewed on. 1em the default size. For example, most web browsers(firefox, ie) default to 16px=1em
Tried our best to avoid images unless absolutely necessary, opting to use CSS creatively instead. On the home page only 2 images load. The logo, and rounded navigation bar, even that is a 1px wide images repeated using CSS(338bytes). The image dimensions are also defined using ems.
NOTE: Also playing around with DATA-URIs to reduce the number of requests on the home page from 4 to 2. This would result in a significant reduction in loading time but possibly an increase on the page size. The problem at the moment is that some phones just don’t support them.
User experience is a HUGE thing for me. I love websites where as soon as hit the page, I know what the current state of the system is, what other states can be achieved and how these states can be achieved. I think we managed to achieve simplicity and didn’t compromise too much on functionality.
No Mobile frameworks
Firstly let me just clarify, I love Jquery mobile, its brilliant. But its also Beta. Beta 2 at the time of writing. My biggest issue is that it doesn’t degrade as gracefully as it should. So your non smart phone users are loosing out on the experience. So the one solution is to have multiple sites. Which Facebook did for a long time, until they realised some of the flaws in that architecture. With one code base you can roll out new features to all devices. Which enables you to be more creative.
So go ahead and play around on http://m.jobs.co.za
This is a very draft post. Will be adding more stuff soon. Just wanted to get it out of the way or else I’d never write it 🙂