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  • Best mobile sites software

    Hi everyone!

    I was wondering what software you like best to use for mobile sites and automatic redirects. I have to redesign my website because I want to take out the flash elements because I can't see them on my phone.

    So in the process I want to make a website that auto-detects if someone is on a mobile device and forwards them onto the mobile site. I wanted to know what mobile software that is the easiest and most intuitive to use. Or mobile design software that can convert an existing website. Right now I use Dreamweaver for my websites.

    Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions!

  • #2
    There are many ways. The easiest is to use a simple php script that detects the browser and specifies a specific css file depending on browser. That can sometimes be problematic, but generally works well. Although you do need to code two (or more) different style sheets to make it work.
    http://brokenspokedesign.com

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    • #3
      Media queries does roughly what Cosmo suggests, but client-side and it doesn't rely on correct user agent information. It's my preferred method, at least for simple sites. For large web applications it may be necessary to write two different user interfaces depending on the device. Take YouTube, for instance.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies. I am a horrible programmer and coder so I just really need some off the shelf type software. Ugh, I wish I could program but I just don't have the patience and brain for it.

        Edited: Ok, I think I understand what you all are talking about with media queries. So I would just get a mobile plug-in that detects mobile devices and then add a mobile style sheet right? But my issue really is how to display the graphics correctly so they'll look ok on a mobile device too. Headache.
        Last edited by DeniseC; 03-01-2012, 02:06 PM.

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        • #5
          No need for a plugin, the browsers do it right out of the box. Keep in mind that old browsers will ignore the media queries, so make sure it falls back on the correct stylesheet.

          http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-mediaqueries/

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          • #6
            Thanks Lumberjack. I wish that I was more up to date on the web stuff but I am terrible at everything except for the design. I need to get up to speed, at least enough to convert a simple site!

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            • #7
              I would recommend a responsive approach. Sometimes it is good to use a separate site but from what I gather I don't think it is the right approach here. Generally, smaller sites do best with a responsive approach where as larger web applications require a completely separate site. Though the site is probably riddled with poor mark-up so to create something responsive will require a complete rewrite and a lot of HTML/CSS education depending on the complexity of the site. Not a easy task at hand at all. Especially if your use to Dreamweaver…
              Last edited by tZ; 03-01-2012, 05:26 PM.

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              • #8
                Personally, I dislike the automatic detection stuff. Whenever I've used that approach on sites, I get nothing but complaints from people saying that they prefer to choose for themselves whether or not to see the slimmed-down site. They don't like it forced upon them.

                As for custom-tailoring the site for small-displays, the styling differences could all be handled with CSS rather than with two completely different set of files. Although, as tZ mentioned, considering the site was built in Dreamweaver and the OP is asking about software and automated solutions, the careful thinking through of the problem and the careful writing of the code to toggle between high-res and low-res displays by means of a style sheet switch just might not be there.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by <b>
                  Personally, I dislike the automatic detection stuff. Whenever I've used that approach on sites, I get nothing but complaints from people saying that they prefer to choose for themselves whether or not to see the slimmed-down site. They don't like it forced upon them.
                  I would generally agree. However, I manage several news paper sites which people have decided to add so much crap to the home pages because they can with ease using Drupal that the performance of the normal site is behind terrible on mobiles. The mobile version at least strips out 90% of the useless blocks, views, etc only presenting the content rather than a bunch of surrounding regions which do nothing more than market other parts of the site itself and external sites. So I think it is in the sites best interest to go straight to the mobile version which is significantly less weight on the server and client than the desktop version. Working with Drupal yourself I'm sure you understand that ease and given many people including designers, marketers, etc have the ability to create panels, blocks and build sites besides install modules it is a loosing battle to take any of that stuff away.

                  Though really the power does need to be taken away from people who do not understand excessive amounts of views, blocks, mini panes, etc are easy to create for the layman but come at a huge performance cost. Though none of this ideal I'm sure it is a problem that other people run into with high traffic Drupal sites that expose build control to none developers which is why I think it is best to send all users to a mobile version. At least the mobile version can be easily controlled because people seem to understand that they can't just add a million things to the page because they can visually see there is no room. On a desktop though the sky is the limit because there is so much space… right.

                  If you are going to have separate sites though I think one of the key elements is being able to easily switch between the same pages in the different context. What I mean by that is all our story pages use a similar URL so that when someone shares something on facebook but a friend clicks on it from a mobile device they are taken to the mobile presentation of that story rather than the desktop version. It is also the same the other way around. So that is something you generally have to look out for given the nature of what a persistent URL with multiple site versions – same content, different context. Though I don't believe any of that really applies with the op. It only really applies when there are key, entity pages for products, events, stories, users, etc. At least those are really the only places that marketers care about and I have programmed the "switch" for.

                  Now that I have several mobile conversions under my belt using different methodologies I much prefer the the responsive approach. Though it is not always the most appropriate considering the state of the existing application. Sites that were created before semantic mark-up become important generally have to be completely rewritten anyway. At that point depending on the complexity of the site ie. surrounding "blocks" (not necessarily talking Drupal) it is better off to start fresh but merely use the same data sources. Considering most of the sites I have worked on are quit out of date created 6+ years back that approach is generally the most appropriate for projects I am assigned. Given a more time most sites created that way can become "responsive" in some sense but with past projects the sites have been too complex to make it work easily. Hopefully though with some of the next few projects when I redevelop for mobile and tear everything apart the desktop, mobile and tablet versions can be replaced wth a single, new application – finger crossed.

                  I say all this right now but I actually have also been using Sencha Touch 2. Which is a very powerful for MVC JavaScript application framework for creating rich almost native like applications without page reloads. Very different from something like jQuery Mobile where you merely "hang" attributes on existing tags. In Sencha Touch 2 you develop everything in JavaScript using services to fetch data to populate views – just like you would app. Pretty neat stuff though it does have some downfalls. The major ones being it does not gracefully degrade (obviously), only works on webkit browsers at this time and it requires understanding JavaScript on at least an intermediate level I would say. Though there are plans to support *other* mobile browsers after general release (Sencha Touch 2 is in its release candidate version) – near full release but not entirely there yet. Having several months invested in Sencha Touch 2 w/ 2 projects in development would I recommend it for the op – hell no! It flourishes in building web applications that require dynamic data but for a simple small portfolio site? it would absolutely be an overkill as all separate sites seem like they would for the ops requirements.

                  @DeniseC

                  If you get your mark-up in tact (clean it up) you *might* be satisfied with slapping jQuery Mobile on it. Personally I have had nothing but bad experiences using it myself but I work on larger, application type sites. For smaller sites though with limited time on ones hands it seems like a noteworthy solution. Though I am not very impressed by the GUESS mobile site which uses it so perhaps it just all-around sucks but to be fair guess is not really a small site.
                  Last edited by tZ; 03-01-2012, 10:11 PM.

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                  • #10
                    <b> I have mixed feelings about auto-detecting mobile sites. I don't mind it if I can get to a link that takes me to the classic site. @tZ, what you discussed in your post is way over my skillset...any technical discussion gives me anxiety and I feel like my head is going to explode. It's best I leave that stuff up to programmers.

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                    • #11
                      An option to turn off the mobile stylesheet would be easy to implement. Use the jquery-cookie plugin to set a cookie that tells the server not to serve the responsive stylesheet.

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