There are a plethora of commonly used mobile devices which run on different operating systems and use different browsers. In order to determine which platforms to develop for start by looking at the web-logs or analytics for your existing websites and services. One or two particular mobile operation systems stand out from the rest, in which case it may be worth developing apps for those dominant platforms. However if your users are on a broad range of platforms a mobile website or web app will be a more cost effective way to deliver to a variety of devices.
You can also refer to market data for the area you operate in, which is available from sources such as
- ComScore: http://www.comscoredatamine.com/category/mobile/
- StatCounter: http://gs.statcounter.com
- Ofcom: http://media.ofcom.org.uk/facts/
- Pew Internet project: http://pewinternet.org/Data-Tools.aspx
Deciding whether a mobile website, an app or both is the best way to deliver your content through will also depend on a number of factors. For example, user requirements, data on the popularity of each delivery mechanism and the intended purpose of the tool.
- Mobile Sites vs. Apps: The Coming Strategy Shift (Nielsen 2012)
- What do consumers use their mobiles for? (Mobithinking 2012)
When choosing whether to use an app or mobile website there are also considerations of functionality, usability, design and cost. Referring to standards and guidelines can help with understanding how to optimize your mobile website or app.
- Mobile web design standards (W3C)
- Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web: Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices (W3C 2008)
For more detail on developing for mobiles see the separate posts on
- Mobile websites (cross-platform)
- Web apps (cross-platform)
- Native apps (single platform)
Mobile device emulators
Whichever method you choose, it may be helpful to use device emulators to see how your website or app is working on different mobile platforms.
- iPhone/iPad – iPhone-emulator.org
- Android – developer.android.com/sdk/index.html
- Blackberry – https://bdsc.webapps.blackberry.com/html5/download