I came across a blog entry this morning that really got me thinking. In it, the author recommends that all author websites be mobile-friendly. Which, in the terms mentioned in the post, means:
- White/light background for content and easy to read dark text
- Simple, straightforward navigation
- Minimal logins required
- Clean code so that the site isn’t bogged down and runs faster
- No Flash-centered homepage
I agree with the majority of these comments … and not just for mobile devices. All of these recommendations are just good advice for a functional, usable website.
But this did raise a bit of a question for me. I wonder how much we should make an effort to build ALL author websites for mobile devices. For example, should we keep them narrow enough that the text won’t shrink down to nothing when someone tries to read it on a Blackberry? Should we keep images to a minimum to speed up loading time? Should we NEVER have a dark background or rotating pictures (in Flash or not) on the homepage? What about embedding videos and the like?
In short, building a website for a mobile device is a lot more complicated than just the simple advice given in that blog entry. That’s why most newspapers now offer separate mobile versions — to make them readable on all types of mobile devices. But an author website is not a newspaper. And for many authors — especially fiction writers — the “feel” of the website would be compromised by having people view a version of it with no images, with simple black text on a white background, etc…
Also, I wonder how much time people spend on author websites on their mobile devices, anyway. It’s one thing to check the news or weather or traffic while you’re on the go. But I’m just not sure how many people will decide to spend their few free moments on the road each day looking at an author site.
So what are your thoughts? How much should an author sacrifice look and feel for mobile users? Should we optimize author websites for Blackberries, iPhones, Palms, etc…? Tell us what you think!