At last week’s Web Users Group meeting, we unveiled some of our strategy for improving mobile web offerings at VCU. Many of the things we discussed are still in the early stages of development, but we wanted to let university web developers know ahead of time that we do plan on tackling the growing mobile trend. And we wanted to gather your feedback about the direction we’re heading. So here’s a recap.
Mobile access to websites is increasing exponentially. Many students are coming to college with smartphones or touchscreen wireless web devices like the iPod touch. Using these devices to access many websites is painful at best and can be downright impossible. Even with the best devices, many websites contain a lot of data to download and may have underlying accessibility issues (touch screen devices can’t really handle a hover state).
Our first order of business to promote usable mobile websites at VCU was to craft some guidelines by which mobile websites should be built. We’ve added these guidelines in a draft form to the VCU Web Standards & Guidelines website for your perusal. Please read through them and consider your own sites. Let us know where you believe these guidelines can be improved, and we’ll continue to refine them as mobile devices continue to evolve.
Second, we wanted to provide a simple avenue of discovery for new mobile websites at VCU. What better way than through the A-Z index? Over the next month, we’ll build the infrastructure into the A-Z management system so you can easily add your mobile websites to a specific Mobile category. Sites within the Mobile category will have to meet a few additional guidelines to ensure that they work well for all mobile users.
Once the Mobile category is populated and running, we can pull that data into other places such as the VCU Mobile website (m.vcu.edu) and as a new module within the VCU Mobile applications for smartphones (available for iPhone and Blackberry and soon for Android devices). That’s phase three, if you’re still counting.
We hope you’ll look over the mobile web standards, give us your feedback on it, and start looking at how you can provide a better mobile experience for your users.