Best Way to Add Mobile

A number of clients are asking me to add mobile websites to their existing websites (all built with Freeway Pro). This seems like a good idea – since Google Analytics show a lot of visitors coming from smart phones.

So, what is the best way to add mobile?

I’ve read posts in this forum about building separate websites (a lot of work), adding sniffer code (has to work with all smart phones, not just iphone), ground-up CSS rebuilds (beyond my skill set), and other issues and workarounds.

What about just paying $5 a month to add goMobi service to an existing website? It appears to come with strong re-direct code, an easy to use mobi builder, and all the main features that clients want in a mobile (like Find Me, Call Me, Open Hours, About, Photo Gallery, YouTube Video, etc). This seems like a no-brainer. Has anyone on this forum used goMobi service. Am I missing some obvious problem?

I admit that I’m more of a designer than a coder (in fact I’m a damn poor coder), but I still want to give my clients what they are asking for – and maybe earn a bit of profit.

Here is an example I found on the web of someone offering “mobile upgrade” service for $399 setup and $149/year.
They appear to be using goMobi (which remember, cost $5/month).

www.marchmobile.com

I would really like to hear what other Freeway users think about this way of adding mobile to existing websites? Should we be doing it this way, or is there something better?

Thanks,

Craig


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I’m probably as often the totally wrong one to give any advices but here are my 2 cents:

I’m not sure if a paid service whatever name will be that effective as expected with a freeway generated page. But I think it’s even not necessary to do, cause Freeway has the mobile redirect action so:

  1. Keeping your existing content and do nothing

That’s what I mostly do and except a few smaller things, all the sites work without any further minding. My settings are the default.

  1. Two layouts

This is probably the most stressy part - but it makes sense. A reduced and a “high-sized” orientation (on its first view) needs anyway a re-think of the basic layout. For example a 4-column layout horizontal should be probably a 4-textbox vertically. The pain on this part is, that it needs a concept from the very first point of tackling a project.

  1. Fluid Design

I once saw a so cool way to handle this and bases on the thoughts of point 2 but wrapped in a one-for-all construction. The idea behind this is not to argue with fixed box-widths but with percentage and something that’s called @media-queries. This method is short said, that a 80% body width is on all devices 80% and a media-query could mean, that if there is an element on 760px left but you have only 512px wide device screen, this item either disappears or is pushed to the bottom or somewhere else. Unfortunately, I haven’t achieved something like this yet and it would be outermost interesting what the experts say to this point.

Especially the 3rd part would be so cool to be discussed further but it requires a plan, a concept, a scribble or whatever detailed basic minding.

Cheers

Thomas


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Thomas,

Thanks for this good input. I think it cuts to an important question: Is it better to design a desktop/mobile solution completely in-house (so everything is integrated and controlled) or is it better to purchase an off-the-shelf solution to extend our product (what we deliver to the client)?

One example of this trade-off is buying Web-Yep, instead of writing custom PHP code, to add CMS to client’s website. Using Web-Yep doesn’t give me nearly as much control or functionality as hand coding. But it saves a lot of time for me and expense for my client. Not to mention how difficult it is to write PHP code (for me anyway). Because of this, I do buy Web-Yep and install it on some client’s websites.

Is using a mobile solution like goMobi different than using a CMS solution like Web-Yep?

You also mentioned that “Freeway has the mobile redirect action”. Is this the iphone redirect action? My understanding was that it only detected an iphone or a “smaller than” screen size. Also, isn’t it a JavaScript (which has problems with some mobile devices)?

I think it is important to be able to deliver a mobile solution (in some form) today. Is it possible and practical to do this completely in Freeway? Or should we look at 3rd party add-ons or services?

Craig at dpixstudios.com


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Hi Craig,

I’m totally on “Modular Thinking Fetishism” as long as it is easy to integrate into either the Freeway or even the WebYep surrounding.

Two things are necessary:

They shall keep alive my design wishes (the reason I gave Freeway a try and never regret it or ever will …)

They should be php-based especially for WebYep as a php-based simple CMS.

The shared link goMobi, I open spoken haven’t understood its sense yet, cause there is nothing in, what freeway wouldn’t achieve or would me make happier than I actually am. But as I said - I haven’t seen the gist in it.

I have a lot of trade-offs that are:

Framework (Freeway)
CSS testings (Espresso)

by externalize the freeway inline styles.

The page is then flavored with:

WebYep (CMS)
Disqus (Commenting System as a “blog” in WebYep)
MailChimp for newsletters
ECWID as a shopping cart
WOW Slider (or others for showcase)

and a few more php-based scripts like search-facility or a login area …

There are a couple of more possibilites I haven’t covered yet, but as I said - the mobile devices aren’t in plan yet (and won’t be for the near future). And as I said in my previous post:

I first try to tackle things with my collected tools (and experience), if I’m not happy I add another one - goMobi isn’t actual an option I further mind to add to my list.

Have a look at

and you probably understand why.

My current project collector of what a WebYep page could be is:

http://www.test.q-ring.de/

where all content (except of the bg-images) is added in the WY-possible areas. The bg-artwork can be quick and dirty replaced in the css-sheets.

Last but not least:

Thinking modular needs always plan-B (what happens if a service suddenly stops?) Just as a hair in the soup.

Cheers

Thomas


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Should we be doing it this way, or is there something better?

There is nothing in that goMobi stuff that you cannot create in FW.

A couple of lines of js are all that you need to redirect a smart phone to a mobile enhanced site - and it doesn’t need to be a .mobi site either or hosted anywhere other than your existing site. All reasonable mobile browsers can handle this.

<script type="text/javascript">
<!--
if (screen.width <= 699) {    document.location = "http://www.yourmobilesite.net";    }    //-->
</script>

The one above redirects devices with a screen size smaller than 699px to the optimised site - FW has templates for mobile sites.

The secret to a good mobile site/pages is to keep graphics small, ditch Flash and optimise for a taller, narrower layout.

And make sure that there are links to the full version if that is what the visitor wants to see.

My 2c

David


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Hi Thomas,

I think this mobile issue may be bigger, more complex, and closer than most of us would like to believe.

Thomas, you said: “the mobile devices aren’t in plan yet (and won’t be for the near future)”. I think this feeling is probably shared by a lot of pro web developers.

A recent news story said: “Jason Spero, Google head of global mobile, released a series of predictions surrounding mobility. Among the most important elements was that more than 1 billion people will use mobile as a primary internet access point by the end of 2012”. That sounds pretty big and pretty close to me.

I also think that mobile is complex because of the small size of the screen and the fact that there are hundreds of different sizes out there. No amount of CSS or Web-Yepping will take 1000 x 900 pixels worth of data and make a meaningful display on a smart phone. It will require a server-side program (PHP, ASP,etc) to build a page specifically for the device that is requesting it. Personally, I’m not up to writing that kind of code – and even if I was, most of my clients wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Hi Dave,

You said “A couple of lines of js are all that you need to redirect a smart phone to a mobile enhanced site”. I sincerely wish this were true. But I don’t think a client is going to be satisfied with a one-size-fits-all mobile site. Imagine displaying the same page on a cheap smartphone and an iPad tablet – there would be a lot of blank space showing around the content.

To be workable with what’s out there today, should be able to identify the specific mobile device requesting the page, then build it on-the-fly. That requires serious sniffer code and lookup table that is updated regularly. Is this really something that we, as web designers and developers, want to do? And yes, this is what goMobi is offering through resellers like Network Solutions.

So now we get to the trade-off between creativity, functionality, and cost – where most of us live.

Thomas, you said an add-on like goMobi would only be acceptable if: “They shall keep alive my design wishes (the reason I gave Freeway a try and never regret it or ever will …) wishes”. Nope, it’s not going to happen. In fact, what goMobi produces on the smartphone screen is really crude and simple. However, it does fit nicely on any sized screen. It offers a choice of buttons that link to things – including the full website. So from a functionality point of view, it it seems to fit the need.

And what about price? Network Solutions is selling goMobi for about $60 ~ $70 per year. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, and I expect we’ll see other services offered in the future.

So the big question for me is, can I produce a solution that includes sniffer code that can tell the difference between a Droid Razor and an iPad, plus reliably deliver a page sized for that device? If so, what software tools do I use? Is there someone out there that’s developing a PHP sniffer-code/CMS Action that will work with Freeway.

One last thing. I put together a little goMobi website as a test for one of my clients. After seeing it on his smartphone, he sent me this email “Looks good…works good too.”

Your thoughts?

Craig


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I put together a little goMobi website as a test for one of my clients. After seeing it on his smartphone, he sent me this email “Looks good…works good too.”

But it isn’t anything you cant do in FW

Imagine displaying the same page on a cheap smartphone and an iPad tablet

But my redirect is for screen sizes below a certain width - you wouldn’t want to redirect an iPad - especially if it was an iPad 3 with an 2048 by 1536 display!

Above a certain size a smart phone will do a reasonable job of a normal site - only redirect those with smaller screens.


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Dave,

Is it really good enough to send the same alternate page layout to all mobile devices regardless of screen size, so long as the screen is smaller than 699 pixels? Doesn’t it matter that the page won’t be optimized to that user’s screen?

Craig


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699px is an arbritary size here - it can be anything you want.

There may be an optimum size bigger than which a standard site will be fine - I haven’t looked at screen size statistics for mobile visitors to determine this recently.

But if you optimise for rendering to mobile visitors with a screen smaller than that width you will be doing as good a job as goMobi


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I think the problem is Freeway (and GoMobi) presents a redirect to another “mobile” site albeit hosted on your domain. As a designer I ultimately want a responsive web site (a single site thats fits all devices). It’s certainly possible using Freeway but it’s hard work because on all the inline styles. You will need to put the time in learning CSS.

There’s a Freeway mobile demo page here I’ve been playing around with. It’s a page that display’s appropriately for an iPhone. Compare on the iPhone with a desktop browser. For example the large image is stripped out for quick loading.
http://www.printlineadvertising.co.uk/demo/mobile/

The GoMobi service is not bad as it takes care of everything for you plus you’re off in minutes. Even a beginner can do it… We offer the GoMobi Service there’s a demo here:
http://www.ineedwebhosting.co.uk/mobile-website-builder.html

David

On 7 Mar 2012, at 02:14, Craig wrote:

What about just paying $5 a month to add goMobi service to an existing website?


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Hi Dave,

Maybe I’m trying to make this too complicated. It certainly would be simpler to design a single size mobile site with a JS switcher. Could you point me to any online examples of real websites set up this way? I would love to see them in action.

Thanks,

Craig


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Hi Dave,

Yes, keeping everything together on one site would be nice.

I’m curious, are you reselling goMobi service as a hosting add-on at ineedwebhosting as well as providing custom web design based on Freeway? If so, how do you decide when a custom mobile solution is best for a client vs. a goMobi solution?

Thanks,

Craig


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Hi Craig,

A good example for a famous responsive “one size fit all” web site is http://colly.com/ resize the page in a bowser and watch the content reflow appropriately.

Our Printline side of things offers web design and print to local clients. As to decide when to use mobile its budget vs time. The goMobi is very quick and easy but it’s a paid for service but even to client could maintain it themselves. Next up is Freeway more time to set up.

Local clients have not really got the understanding of mobile sites yet it’s still early days. I’m sure that will change.

David

On 8 Mar 2012, at 18:53, Craig wrote:

Hi Dave,

Yes, keeping everything together on one site would be nice.

I’m curious, are you reselling goMobi service as a hosting add-on at ineedwebhosting as well as providing custom web design based on Freeway? If so, how do you decide when a custom mobile solution is best for a client vs. a goMobi solution?

Thanks,

Craig


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Update on Best Way To Go Mobile

For the past few days I’ve been testing the goMobi service offered by Network Solutions. At best, the report is a mixed bag. Network Solutions charges about $5 per month and provides a hosted mobile site, plus redirect code (PHP, ASP, or Javascript) that goes on the full website. This redirect code does a couple of things, 1) it sends a request to goMobi’s online lookup service to get the specs on the visitor’s device, and 2) it places cookies to keep track of visiting devices and to allow a visitor to switch back to the full website.

The good news: The goMobi website is easy to set up and provides the basic info a mobile visitor probably wants to know about a business. It’s cheap to set up. And it looks okay (if a bit crude).

The bad news: The redirect PHP code doesn’t seem to work if the full website and goMobi site aren’t hosted on the same server. The PHP code fails as soon as it connects to the goMobi lookup site. The javascript code redirects okay, but doesn’t allow a visitor to return to the full website.

And it gets worse: goMobi offers zero support, no user forums, no nada. All support is left to resellers like Network Solutions, who told me I couldn’t speak to a tech unless I “buy a support contract”, and that “goMobi support contracts are only available for NS hosted websites.” That leaves me out in the cold.

So at this point it looks like the Best Way To Go Mobile is to use Freeway to build a separate mobile-friendly website and use a JS switch to redirect mobile visitors. Of course, it also means the extra work of coding all the add-on features that come with goMobi – a bit like reinventing the wheel.

One last questions, does anyone know why part of the goMobi PHP redirect code appear as text above this webpage?

http://www.bigeautorebuild.com

I thought HTTP would ignore PHP code if it couldn’t be executed.

Thanks,

Craig


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I thought HTTP would ignore PHP code if it couldn’t be executed.

Is your server PHP enabled?

David


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Dave,

Yes, the server is PHP enabled. It runs info.php just fine.

It even runs the first few lines of the PHP redirect code. But when it fails when it gets to about here:

if($redirect!=‘false’) {

$da_results = array(’_source’ => ‘none’);

At this point it appears to be requesting something from the goMobi site.

Craig


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Hi Craig

Thanks for all your research, I really need to get a couple of websites up on mobile too. GoMobi doesn’t look the way to go. have you heard of Duda mobile?

kind regards
Elizabeth Christie

Ph: +61 (0) 8 8121 7744

E: email@hidden
W: www.schooldaysmagazine.com
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On 13/03/2012, at 10:52 AM, Craig wrote:

Update on Best Way To Go Mobile

For the past few days I’ve been testing the goMobi service offered by Network Solutions. At best, the report is a mixed bag. Network Solutions charges about $5 per month and provides a hosted mobile site, plus redirect code (PHP, ASP, or Javascript) that goes on the full website. This redirect code does a couple of things, 1) it sends a request to goMobi’s online lookup service to get the specs on the visitor’s device, and 2) it places cookies to keep track of visiting devices and to allow a visitor to switch back to the full website.

The good news: The goMobi website is easy to set up and provides the basic info a mobile visitor probably wants to know about a business. It’s cheap to set up. And it looks okay (if a bit crude).

The bad news: The redirect PHP code doesn’t seem to work if the full website and goMobi site aren’t hosted on the same server. The PHP code fails as soon as it connects to the goMobi lookup site. The javascript code redirects okay, but doesn’t allow a visitor to return to the full website.

And it gets worse: goMobi offers zero support, no user forums, no nada. All support is left to resellers like Network Solutions, who told me I couldn’t speak to a tech unless I “buy a support contract”, and that “goMobi support contracts are only available for NS hosted websites.” That leaves me out in the cold.

So at this point it looks like the Best Way To Go Mobile is to use Freeway to build a separate mobile-friendly website and use a JS switch to redirect mobile visitors. Of course, it also means the extra work of coding all the add-on features that come with goMobi – a bit like reinventing the wheel.

One last questions, does anyone know why part of the goMobi PHP redirect code appear as text above this webpage?

http://www.bigeautorebuild.com

I thought HTTP would ignore PHP code if it couldn’t be executed.

Thanks,

Craig


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