How to create Mobile Websites

It’s a Mobile World, no doubt about it, and every second that passes by even more, with over a thousand more mobile phone users being added to the global community per minute. Mobile Web access has been accelerating since 2007 with the advent of multi-touch smartphones, and more recently since 2010, with the emergence of multi-touch tablet computers. Both platforms are designed for better Internet access and browser and application-based user Internet experiences than any devices from previous generations.

Not many people could have predicted this surge on mobile users, and that’s probably why so many websites are unprepared for this new wave of visitors. Even though today the total number of mobile users accessing the internet is greater than those using a computer, there are still many interoperability issues due to the number of different and often incompatible mobile devices, mobile operating systems, and mobile browsers, as well as usability problems derived from physical factors, such as limited resolution screens, aspect ratios, and user operating limitations inherent to the small size of the mobile devices. All these requirements and limitations make the process involved in designing and developing mobile websites fundamentally different from the methodology involved in the creation of traditional ones.

There are several approaches that can be used when creating a mobile website. One is to start from scratch, independently from the main current website, if there’s one online. WAP, WML, or even HTML formats can be used. However keep in mind that WML cannot be run by default on all Web hosts, so make sure to ask your Web host provider first, as the Web server needs to be configured before you can deploy a mobile site using WML.

WML stands for Wireless Markup Language. Although it is inherited from HTML, WML is based on XML, so it is much stricter than HTML and more limited in terms of features and tags. A WML document consists of a header like the following, that declares the type of document and its WML standards:

<?xml version=”1.0″?>
<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC “-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN”
“http://www.mymobilesite.com/index.xml”>

Pages in mobile websites are called cards, and they are declared as follows:

<wml>
<card id=”main” title=”Testing a new Mobile Site” newcontext=”true”>
</wml>

This makes a card that has the ID “main” used for linking purposes, which will display the following title text on top of the screen:

Testing a new Mobile Site

Fortunately HTML can also be used to create mobile websites. Software like Adobe Creative Suite 3 and up, which comes bundled with Adobe Device Central and Dreamweaver CS3, makes it fairly easy to implement HTML thanks to its support of the XTHML Mobile protocol and its targeting of different mobile devices. However, it would be very difficult to support all the available devices available, so the best solution is to keep the HTML code as simple as possible to make sure it is compatible with as many mobile platforms and mobile devices as possible.

If you do not have the time or patience to learn new coding practices, then consider hiring a firm like RackNine that specializes in mobile website design. We also provide for seamless integration of mobile code into Content Management Systems such as WordPress, by using “brave new code” such as WPtouch, a Canadian-made extension that lays the code foundations of websites compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch, and other mobile devices.

The advent of a great number of web accessible mobile devices over the past year means that if you currently do not have a mobile website, you are potentially losing out on a huge stream of visitors. The creation of an efficient mobile website has become a necessity to anyone serious about online marketing who wants to stay one step ahead of the competition.


RackNine can help you adapt your website for viewing on any kind of mobile device.

For more information please Contact Us.

Virtualization for Small Businesses

What at first appeared to be a technology that was meant to be deployed only in large corporations, is starting to take hold in the realm of small businesses, although at a much lower rate. Virtualization appears to be a very attractive solution for small businesses, but many of them are put off by what they perceive to be high licensing costs, high investment in time, or the lack of technical know-how.

However, requirements for virtualization have changed a lot since the times of massive data centers and huge IT budgets. Today, virtual operating systems allow companies of any size to utilize the kind of hardware and software that was reserved for large enterprises not so long ago. Virtual servers can also be used to eliminate the costs of managing and upgrading legacy hardware by migrating older applications onto virtual machines running on newer and tested hardware. They can also consolidate much of the hardware onto a single physical server to decrease management complexity.

VMware, leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, points out that  most computers today operate at a mere 10-15% of their total computing capacity, leaving vast IT resources untapped and unusable. Virtualization increases utilization to as much as 85% by running multiple operating systems on a single computer. According to their survey of 309 senior business and IT managers at companies with 20 to 1,000 employees in the United States and Canada, The Benefits of Virtualization for Small and Medium Businesses, by using virtualization these range of businesses are reducing the time spent on routine IT administrative tasks, such as adding and managing new server workloads, adding new employees or developing and launching new applications, and they are also becoming more responsive to business needs, while at the same time reducing the very real risks of IT outages and data loss.

“SMBs are adopting virtualization for a variety of reasons. The number one reason cited is to improve server utilization; 72% of SMBs chose virtualization for this reason. But that’s not the only benefit: 57% sought to reduce or contain the number of servers, 49% to improve security, 48% to improve availability and uptime, 47% to improve server and application management, and 47% to improve data backup and protection.”

As told by Joe Andrews, VMware’s  group manager of product marketing at the The Register, “What we have seen is that the smaller the company, the faster they will go 100% for virtualization. It takes smaller companies more time to adopt virtualization, but once they start, they go in for it in a big way.”  Going the “big way” was how he described the other complementary services that virtualization also offers SMBs, such as integrated backups, business continuity, high availability, reduced downtime and reduced data loss.

Although VMware’s solutions can be outside the technical capabilities and surpass the budget of many businesses, they are not the only option available in the market, not by far. In fact, the choice today can be so overwhelming, that you could end up spending more time finding and testing the right solution for your business than doing the actual final deployment. In any case, the bottom line is that virtualization is a very capable tool that will effectively lower costs and raise productivity while reducing risk for businesses of any size and bringing real, measurable value. For many small businesses virtualization is the kind of technology that they have always dreamed of, available today.


RackNine can help you find the right virtualization solution for your business, hosted on our own servers or the Cloud Computing network of your choice.

 

For more information, please Contact Us.

Local Products showing up in Google Search results

Google has recently announced that it is adding Local Product Search results to regular search results. Paul Lee, Senior Product Manager for the Google Product Search Team, wrote at the Google Retail Advertising Blog that they had accomplished the

“… simple goal of making it as easy to search for products in nearby stores as it is to shop online. Our vision was simple: partner with retailers to organize all of the world’s local product information.

Search for a product and click on the ‘nearby stores’ label, and you can easily find a list of stores to call and check availability, and in many cases, information about whether the product is in stock nearby”

To access the new feature, click on the “Shopping” tab at the top of Google’s home page. If you search for example, for “digital camcorder“, Google will show you product results as well as which nearby stores carry the item in stock nearby. The results also include information about the cost of the product with the option to compare prices, as well as the contact information for the store. Previously, the results would just tell you where to find the product online.

This feature has been available on mobile devices including iPhones, Palm WebOS phones, and Android-based devices since March, and Google has also announced that it has updated the Google Shopper for Android app to include search filters like price and brand. If you have an iPhone, Palm WebOS phone, or any Android-powered device, and you’re in the US, just go to Google.com in your mobile browser, tap on the “more” link, and then select “Shopping.” Or look for the “Shopping results” section in Universal Search results when you search on Google.com.


RackNine can help you set up your e-commerce solution and promote your products through Google and other specialized on-line channels.

Please do not hesitate to Contact Us for more information

Android OS poised for World dominance

The smartphone market has seen some substantial changes during the third quarter of 2010, with Nokia slowing down its pace as Android races ahead on an overall market that almost doubled from 41m to 80.5m units, according to Gartner’s report: “Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, 2007-2014.”

Although Nokia increased the number of phones it sold from 18.3m to 29.5m, yet it lost market share from 44.6% to 36.6%, as opposed to Android phones, that grew their sales dramatically, leaping from 3.5% to 25.5% to become the second-biggest smartphone OS in just a year, overtaking Research In Motion, which saw its share fall from 20.7% to 14.8%, falling into fourth position after iOS, that maintained its share at 17%.

Communication service providers’ (CSPs’) marketing and vendor support for Android-based smartphones will drive the platform to become the second-largest platform, following Symbian, by year-end 2010. This is almost two years earlier than Gartner predicted a year ago.

Android OS, which is based upon a modified version of the Linux kernel, will account together with Symbian for 59.8 percent of mobile OS sales worldwide by 2014. Although Symbian will remain at the top of worldwide OS ranking due to Nokia’s volume and the push into more mass market price points, by 2014 Android will be at a very similar share level.

“The worldwide mobile OS market is dominated by four players: Symbian, Android, Research In Motion and iOS,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Launches of updated operating systems — such as Apple iOS 4, BlackBerry OS 6, Symbian 3 and Symbian 4, and Windows Phone 7 — will help maintain strong growth in smartphones in 2H10 and 2011 and spur innovation. However, we believe that market share in the OS space will consolidate around a few key OS providers that have the most support from CSPs and developers and strong brand awareness with consumer and enterprise customers.”

Android is also poised for dominance in China, the world’s largest mobile market. A combination of drastic price drops on Android phones and custom Chinese mobile apps supported by the massive domestic market is bound to push Android past the competition. To understand why the Chinese market is so important look at the number of mobile Internet users in China projected for 2014, which is expected to reach 957 million, As a comparison the total population of USA and the European Union combined is about 800 million souls.

Gartner predicts that by 2014, open-source platforms will continue to dominate more than 60 percent of the market for smartphones. Single-source platforms, such as Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s OS, will increase in unit terms, but their growth rate will be below market average and not enough to sustain share increase. Windows Phone will be relegated to sixth place behind MeeGo in Gartner’s worldwide OS ranking by 2014.


Additional information is available on Gartner’s website at:

http://www.gartner.com/resId=1428830.

Brave New Code

BraveNewCode Inc. is run by two Canadian gentlemen, who define themselves as “not only good looking folks, but with skills and abilities too”. However, do not allow yourself to be misguided by the sight of their pictures. They actually do have skills and abilities, apart from a great sense of humor. What began in 2007 as a simple design and development portfolio for the work of Dale, evolved into its present form in early 2008, when Duane climbed aboard contributing his extensive web programming skills to this Canadian top-notch venture.

Dale Mugford is from Ontario and has been designing and developing XHTML, CSS, Javascript and multimedia web projects since 1994. His love for all things CSS and web standards ensures high-quality, cross-browser compatible sites. Duane Storey is from British Columbia, and has been developing software applications and web-based architectures nearly since birth. He has built novel web applications, Facebook applications, and even contributed to the voice engine that was once in Yahoo! Messenger.

The BraveNewCode team is responsible for the development of one of the most popular WordPress plugins, WPtouch, that magically transforms a WordPress blog into a basic iPhone application-style theme, complete with AJAX-loading articles and effects, that can be viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices. The basic package can be further customized by tweaking its CSS style, sheets to meet  branding requirements. A commercial version offers more advanced options, such as Web-App mode.

To understand why such a piece of code is so relevant, you could read the dotMobi 2010 “Mobile Web Progress” study that demonstrates that the mobile Web is continuing its explosive global growth. While the 2008 study showed 150,000 mobile-ready websites, the 2010 study showed approximately 3.01 million sites, representing an incredible two-year growth of more than 2,000 percent. And that growth level significantly outpaces early desktop growth.

Web analysts Netcraft found that, between 1996 and 1998, the size of the desktop Web grew from 150,000 sites to 2.0 million sites, a growth rate of only 1,333 percent compared to the mobile Web’s 2,000 percent growth in the equivalent timeframe.

The end result is that “many brands and businesses are seeing that mobile is a vital, unique channel and not just a smaller desktop Web. Big brands are now adopting mobile Web strategies, but we still have a long way to go, given the ubiquity of mobile phones compared to computers,” said Trey Harvin, CEO of dotMobi. “A recent Morgan Stanley report noted that the ‘mobile internet is ramping faster than desktop internet did and will be bigger than most think’. Businesses of all sizes need to prepare for the change in how people will access content by embracing the mobile Web.”

Small business owners must engage their growing mobile audience as large brands have. Developments like WPtouch, together with others such as jQuery Mobile, DeviceAtlas and goMobi are making this happen for the mobile Web.


RackNine can help you adapt your website for viewing on any kind of mobile device.

For more information on this and other compatibility issues, please Contact Us.