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4 April 2010

Multi-Platform Web Sites

Smartphone usage is experiencing huge levels of growth, and take up of digital tablets will rise inexorably within the next twelve months. It’s a trend destined to have a pronounced impact on web site design. One where successful web sites must provide attractive, intuitive and usable page formats across all types of Internet-enabled devices.

Unfortunately, the track record for new thinking in web site design is unconvincing. For many years the purchase of a new desktop or laptop has meant acquiring a wide-screen display. Netbooks and ultra-portable notebooks, in particular, often exhibit very limited vertical resolution. Yet very few web pages utilise this extra width, invariably relying on vertical scrolling to view the page content. A horizontal scrolling paradigm might offer a superior solution for efficient wide-screen utilisation, delivering a more familiar book-like impression and smoother information flow.

Although some sites have worked hard to develop successful multi-platform approaches, many still rely on the user's skill and patience. In a multi-device world, those who target their design and development resources to address these challenges, will enjoy higher volumes of happy users and increased revenue potential.

Let's take The Times and The Sunday Times newspaper as an example. It has, rightly, decided successful presentation of their newspaper on an Apple iPad, isn't about deploying a slightly revised version of their existing online sites, but requires a brand new design philosophy and implementation.

Their successful approach creates an attractive, natural, free-flowing user interface to host the informative news stories, comment and multi-media content. They've introduced finger-friendly hot spots and gesture support to show additional content, reveal captions, magnify images, swipe through pictures, change font sizes and even display a different variation of the same page.

Such initiatives are challenging the existing design traditions, spawning a new band of web professionals and daringly fresh thinking.

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