I happened on an article today about how social networking buttons can eat up bandwidth and slow down a mobile connection. Since I’ve put social networking buttons on this blog, I thought I’d check it out. Since this site is small and mostly text, it should have come up almost instantly. It wasn’t too bad, but then again I tried it on my iPhone while sitting here at my desk. That means I had a Wi-Fi connection with the router at most three feet away. Given that, the site might be rather slow over a cellular connection, and it appeared to me that the mobile plugin I use didn’t actually render the buttons properly anyway. There were some unlabeled links that might have been the buttons. That’s bad, since I need sites to be accessible myself. To run a blog that sometimes covers accessibility issues and isn’t itself accessible is not good.
So, at least on the mobile front, I have some work to do. I’ve been reluctant to touch anything because my eventual plan is to move the blog to a new domain or at minimum move it to the home page of my existing site. I don’t know when that’s going to happen, since time and money have to coincide.
I also want to put more effort into the church site and I think that’s more important. Just as I was writing this I did finally check out the WAP2 link buried at the bottom of the forum site where all our content is generated. That definitely makes the forum more mobile friendly and simplifies accessing the site for screen readers, but the front door for Bartimaeus Baptist Temple is a static page built with a clunky PC based web design tool. It would require more knowledge than I presently possess to add in the kind of mobile friendly automatic rendering that more advanced CMS tools provide.
Now that so many people access content from smartphones, web designers have to consider them when building sites. The need for multiple platform compatibility isn’t new. We’ve always needed to be aware of multiple browsers and multiple screen sizes. Slow connections used to be much more of a concern then they are now, but mobile platforms have reintroduced this issue at a time when high-bandwidth content is the rule. The more I use my own mobile phone to browse the web, the more aware I am of the issue.
That simplifying content often results in greater accessibility is an added bonus that site designers should embrace. Papa John’s Pizza, which happens to be my favorite, has caught onto this. Though I think they’ve become a little more sophisticated about the various platforms then they were at first, the accessibility link on their ordering home page leads you to a site that looks just like their mobile offering and may still be the same link. I didn’t verify that for this post but it definitely used to be. There are a couple of things they need to tweak yet, but a blind user will have no major problem ordering a pizza.
Thus my work is cut out for me. Stay tuned. The very first thing I need to do is at least put up a notification to our church family about the mobile/screen reader friendly link to our forum. So if not for my readers at least for me the time it took to write this was well spent.