“Mobile standards” cropped up several years ago, but even today there is a struggle to gain following. There is a vague overall definition, as various different pieces of web development have taken different approaches.
First of all, your HTML web standards remain the same, although you can find a variety of extra possible settings (Google Search: Mobile Doctype). You can leave your website in it’s current HTML form and allow the mobile browser to resize it accordingly, or you can “detect” when a mobile user is accessing a page, and server up a custom mobile-friendly page. Even if you choose the simple approach and just let the mobile browser work it’s magic, you will probably need to make some minor adjustments anyway too your website’s layout, font sizes and a few more things.
“Mobile apps” are not a standard, and different platforms use different operating system, app programming languages and development platforms. iPhone Apps and Android Apps are very different in their development, however a good programmer will recognize these differences, and attempt to design the applications for each platforms in a similar format, so from a development and file perspective they remain in sync, even if some of the code is different.
It will be several more years before any sort of “common-law” mobile standard exists.
Most website owners have invested heavily financial, with their own time, or both. Web development and website maintenance is a tough investment. Time, money and the competence of your developers are always factors pushing or pulling you in a direction. Outsourced development is one option many website owners choose. Although some have success with building a good site for a good price, the output is usually limited, unreliable and questionable.
One thing everybody is asking for these days is a “mobile version” of a website. Every day people ask me “How easy is it to make my website iphone compatible?”. “How expensive is it to make a iphone or android app?” “If I give you $200 will you make me an app?” Try to answer your own question. Take into account the factors of building your desired features. You can get an idea for yourself how difficult it will be, even with any development experience. Ask yourself these questions:
- How picky am I? Am I going to want my developer to make a ton of changes after they complete the first version of the app?
- How many features do I want?
- Think about how many different “pages” your app will have.
- Also think about how many individual fields your app will have. A search box here, a couple profile settings there, a couple application settings and before you know it you are up to 20 or 30 different input fields – text boxes, checkboxes, radio buttons and select lists.
- Are users going to register for an account through the app?
- Are users going to purchase anything with the app?
- Will my app need pictures and other graphics? Will my app need animations?
- Is the app going to show graphs, charts or other displays based on program data?
The more times you said “yes”, the more difficult it will be and the more it will cost you. Here are some tips:
- Draw the app out on plain 8.5×11 paper with a CRAYONS – you read right – CRAYONS. Think simplicity. If you can’t draw it out quickly with crayons, it’s not simple enough.
- Think of simple ways to integrate features. Instead of integrating a full search, with search results, into your app – you could have only a search box that opens up the search results in an actual browser. You can wait to integrate the full search into the app until version 2, for example.
- Build as much of the dynamic application, the programming, on your website’s end, so the mobile app becomes a front-end to features based on your website. Doing it this way is very similar to normal web development – your processing is on the web server’s back-end, and it sends information to the front-end browser, and the main difference with this method and a normal browser is that you have different to design the front-end GUI with.
- Be prepared for some aches & pains
- Take a relaxed, patient approach – you don’t want to put out a terrible app.
- Be prepared to drop some dime, if you need to.
- Get a good developer
How does making a mobile app affect my server and LAMP system? In other words, how does making a mobile app affect my PHP and MySQL backend?
In reality, the answer is “as much as you want it to”. You could build a lot of processing into your app, and only call back to the server for occasional requests, ie. grabbing a user’s account info when they login to the app. However building a minimalistic app that relies heavily on server-side processing is usually more efficient (but this depends on the specific factors involved). Apps don’t have a lot of processing power, but your server does. Your server probably also has all of the necessary base-data for the app to operate, so just put as much as possible on the server.