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How to Optimize Web Applications for a Mobile Environment

· Mobile Zone

Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud, brought to you in partnership with IBM.

Despite the continued mobile madness, many companies are still dragging their heels. Building  a native mobile app requires a pretty significant investment of money and developer resources. Smaller companies in particular often struggle to justify the spend on native app development. Instead, many companies opt to support a mobile web application, tuned to have the same look and feel as a native application, but with less development overhead.

So, what do developers need to know about optimizing web apps for mobile environments? Here are a few tips you can follow to optimize your application’s performance on the mobile web:

1.     Prioritize the functionality in your app

In a mobile environment, simplicity is key. Focusing your application on the most necessary functions.  This eases performance and gives users the best overall experience.  For example, if you’re reading content within a news site, you’ll want to solely focus the user experience on the actual article without additional and unnecessary images or ads. This boosts performance and streamlines the experience of the application.


2.     Keep file sizes small & get browser-specific
Often web apps are built to deliver content for all kinds of browsers at once. In mobile the opposite is true. Applications that send content specific to each individual mobile browser avoids weighing down the browser with data it can’t use.
Speed up the app’s performance by keeping files smaller in size and reducing the number of files needed to render the page.

3.     Remove the clutter in your screen space
The dimensions of the screen are important to consider given that the physical space of most mobile phones is usually less than 4 inches. When building your web app, take into account the limited screen size by removing the clutter. But remember, these are very hi-res screens, so don’t decrease the image size too much, as your visuals and graphics will suffer.

4.     Consider mobile toolkits to help with your UI

You want to make your mobile-optimized site unique from the primary web design, as the screen is drastically smaller. Consider using mobile web toolkits like jQuery Mobile to provide common navigation elements and gestures so you can focus on what makes your site unique. Keep it light and simple so performance won’t be boggled down.

So, if you’re looking to get started in mobile web app development these few tips should give you a good start. Although some people might believe a web app approach is not as “sexy” as native apps for iOS or Android, mobile web apps are extremely efficient and an easier approach to a mobile strategy.

The Mobile Zone is brought to you in partnership with Strongloop and IBM.  Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud.


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