More and more people are getting iPhones these days, causing Apple’s browser market share to increase steadily. In the last quarter of 2008 Apple’s iPhone even outsold RIM’s Blackberry. Whether it is the 15,000+ available applications or the accelerometer that detects how the phone is oriented in a user’s hand, people cannot seem to get enough of the iPhone. That is also evidenced in the fact that iPhone users on average spend more time online compared to other users of handheld devices. The only problem with using an iPhone to browse the Internet is that websites often appear too small. Craig Grannell, journalist for .Net Magazine, explains “By default, websites appear in pint-sized versions, with text generally being illegible and links being practically impossible to target.”*
With iPhone sales on the rise and iPhone users spending more time than traditional users online, many companies are trying to take advantage of this craze by marketing their sites specifically to iPhone users. Essentially, there are two options: create an iPhone optimized site or an iPhone specific site. No matter which one you choose, if you decide to market your site to iPhone users there are some essentials that you will need to include.
Essentials for an iPhone Friendly Site:
- Boil down your website to only the most important content (making sure not get rid of vital links). Also remember that users may not be willing to drag the page around on their phone to find the information they are looking for so position the most important information toward the top.
- Enable brand recognition by keeping your company logo featured prominently at the top of the website. Your logo should be the first thing a user sees on their iPhone screen when they open your website.
- Do not waste space on the “traditional navigation” of a website if you can lay out your site in a linear manner. iPhone users would prefer clicking through a series of links to get to the information they want rather than dragging the page around minimizing and maximizing it to use a navigation bar.
- Ensure click areas are large. Keep in mind users are not using a mouse, they are using fingertips (which are obviously much larger). If the click area itself is not very large allow room for sloppy clicking by making sure that there are not other click areas nearby.
- Increase font sizes to 20px (which is good for horizontal orientation) or 30px (which is better for vertical orientation). If you do not have the room to increase the font size this much, make sure that you leave proper spacing and use easy to read text colors to help viewers use the website.
- Optimize screen width. An iPhone will have a 480px maximum screen width so in order to use that to its fullest avoid using columns or images that move or break the flow of blocks of text.
- iPhone users are not necessarily Mac users so don’t “over Mac” your design or message
- Have a link back to your regular website incase users prefer it.
Maybe you are not convinced yet that creating an iPhone version of your website is worth the time and effort; but .Net Magazine reminds us that this exercise can benefit your traditional website as well. As Craig Grannell points out, “The fact that a good mobile site really makes you focus on what’s important – clarity, simple layouts, important information, clean design – can only help when you come to work on websites back in the land of ‘normal’ web browsers.”*
-Kate Pierce, Volusion
*Grannell, Craig. “/mobile/optimise your site for iPhones.” .Net Magazine. Issue 184 Jan 2009. Pages 72-74.