How Mobile Websites Differ from Regular Websites - dummies

How Mobile Websites Differ from Regular Websites

By Michael J. O'Farrell, John R. Levine, Jostein Algroy, James Pearce, Daniel Appelquist

Part of Mobile Internet For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A made-for-mobile Internet site is a website that’s streamlined and designed to work on mobile devices. The sites are most easily identified by their URLs —often, the www part has been replaced with an m — for example, versus, and versus

Full Internet sites often have too many graphics and too much information for mobile phones and other handheld devices to access and display in a practical way. Accessing the pure Internet on a mobile phone might not be the best use of a person’s time and money.

For example, see the Mini Cooper home page shown in the following figure. The Mini Cooper website uses Flash, javascript, and advanced html, which together allow for some cool effects — hovering over each car in the lower right brings up a larger photo of that particular model, as well as its specs. These advanced web design programs, however, aren’t compatible for mobile devices.

The full Internet website of Mini Cooper.
The full Internet website of Mini Cooper.

The solution is to make a full Internet-like experience work on mobile phones — and that means making it very simple. The information that people want on their mobile phones should be easy to access and display, and not use a ton of data from their wireless plans. The made-for-mobile phrase indicates that a site enables you to

  • Browse more easily on your mobile device: Because a mobile device has a small screen, no large keyboard, and no “real” mouse, a made-for-mobile site has pared-down navigation, lets you enter text easily, and is designed to fit on a smaller screen.

  • Access highly condensed, small bites of content and services on the go: The sites are specifically designed and developed for your mobile phone, offering just the information you’re most likely to be looking for.

The next figure shows you Mini Cooper’s mobile website. Notice the differences?

The Mobile website of Mini Cooper.
The Mobile website of Mini Cooper.


The best use of the mobile Internet is to receive the information, applications, and services that work best on mobile devices when you’re away from your computer. There’s no reason to overload your mobile gizmos with everything you can see on the Internet. The mobile Internet is the information equivalent of a fast snack on the go. At a bus stop, in a taxi or train, waiting for a plane or a friend, before a business meeting, you can snap up tidbits of useful info.