Tips and techniques for mobile web design

Mobile Web Design: Tips & Techniques is the third part in the Mobile Web Design article series by Cameron Moll and Brian Fling. This part covers two different approaches to designing websites for mobile devices: handheld stylesheets and mobile-specific sites.

I’ll start looking closer at these two approaches as soon as I can lay my hands on at least a couple of web enabled cell phones for testing. In the meantime I have found that sending raw HTML without styling, described in Mobile Web Design: Methods to the Madness, works really well for most sites I have built.

Mobile web design is something all web professionals will need to learn more about in the near future. Right now, even - mobile web browsing is quickly becoming more common, at least in countries like Sweden where mobile phones are used by everybody.

Posted on October 27, 2005 in (X)HTML, CSS, Quicklinks


  1. I’ve found great and grave differences in how different brands and models of mobile phone handle web content, and agree that until support improves significantly, raw html is the way to go.

    Unless the project has specific mobile goals of course, and then a budget allowance (that includes lots of testing) can be allocated!

    Mike Davidson’s Make Your Site Mobile Friendly in Two Minutes is an excellent resource that’s also referenced in Cameron Moll’s article.

  2. Having read a little bit on the subject, I’m leaning towards mobile-specific sites.

    If a device is mobile, it will have a smaller screen, and a much simpler hardware interface (probably just a joystick). So, like the iPod, less is more. As few steps as possible to get to the content you’re interested in.

    On the web, you can stick a blog entry, Google ads, quick links, recent posts and Amazon wishlist links in there without too much worry. On a phone, I think even the plain HTML of those elements would get in the way.

    An advert for nicer internet-capable phones with bigger screens over here has a Google search page on the phone’s screen as an example. And even this seems to be a slimmed down mobile version, with fewer options. If even Google thinks it needs to simplify for the optimal mobile experience, I reckon mobile-specific sites (or possibly mobile stylesheets that hide stuff) are the way to go.

  3. At last I have found where the XHTML Mobile Profile resides.

    Quite honesty they have some really bizarre elements to chose from like: and which makes little sense for a mobile UA let alone a desktop.

  4. Ah, I forgot HTML elements formatted the text here, oops.

  5. October 28, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Small Paul: Sure, it depends on the site and what kind of content it contains.

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