Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Getting mobile

Bit of a techie post this one but it's hopefully of some use/relevance to anyone with an art website. I've been becoming increasingly conscious of the fact that the gallery on my website is a Flash based solution and that meant it wouldn't work on a number of mobile devices ( e.g ipad).This could become quite a problem as more and more people are getting connected with hand held devices and I have indeed have a number of people mention that they can't view the site so well on their handheld devices. Gone are the days where a website developer just needed to worry about whether a site worked in just a handful of browsers. We now have to be mindful of the plethora of hardware being used too!

I actually use Slideshowpro (which I rate very highly) for my gallery so I decided to see if I could get things properly 'mobilised'. After reviewing the options I also decided it was best to rework the main theme for the whole website at the same time so that it would all display in a better way on mobile devices. I won't bore you with the technical stuff but will mention that I'm now using SlideshowPro Director which is an excellent content management application that makes gallery authoring MUCH easier. It also has an HTML5 viewer which the user can see if they're on a mobile device. The switch between the HTML5 and Flash viewers is automatically handled, depending on the device being used. It does take a bit of setting up but I think it's worth the effort. I don't mind paying a relatively small fee for these types of products because they make the development and maintenance of the website so much easier and efficient. In the long run, less time working on the website means more time at the easel :o)

In terms of creating an overall mobile theme for the site I would thoroughly recommend using the Opera mobile emulator which you can install on your computer and use to simulate your site being viewed on a range of mobile devices. I've tried to get the theme to reorganise page content into a single cascading column for mobile devices. Since I'm using Blogger as my blog I've had to comprimise slightly on the mobile view as it doesn't include the top navigation. Apart from that it seems to generally hold up. If you are using Blogger and switch to the new Blogger interface you'll find that you can set a mobile theme for your blog. I'm using the 'custom theme' option which tries to adapt your main theme into something sensible on a mobile device. Alternatively you can just use one of Blogger's preset mobile themes but it may not match the look and feel of your website if you connect the two up (as I do).

Sorry to overload on technical detail but hopefully it's useful info. If anyone does happen to view my site/blog on a mobile do let me know how you get on with it. There may well be a few creases that still need ironing out :o)

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