Posted Thursday, June 28th, 2007 at 6:06 pm by John Brian (91 posts)
With the launch of the iPhone tomorrow, being heralded by Apple aficionados as the greatest thing since, well, the last thing Apple came out with, devotees are lining up to buy the device designed to replace your phone, music player, toaster over, PDA, PSP, portable video player, Tamagotchi, and perhaps car (teleportation rumored to be available on the $600 version only). At this point, you, the non-profit web professional, might be thinking, “What will my site look like on an iPhone?” Sure, the NY Times looks great in those ads they’re running (personally, I liked the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ones better, but that’s just me), but you’ve got to assume that they picked nytimes.com for a reason. What about your site?
All of these compatibility questions are minor compared to the elephant in the room: the iPhone’s 320 x 480 resolution. This scale will either crop or smush almost every site on the net into a bad user experience if there’s not a mobile-optimized version available. This means that you’ll have to do a separate stylesheet that tones down the graphics, while leaving the text readable, and probably compresses your navigation so that it’s out of the way, but still big enough to be activated by an index finger (that is, until humans evolve some sort of ultra-precise stylus-finger).
The other line of thought on this is just how much it’s worth worrying about iPhone browsers right now. There’s no question that the web is moving in the iPhone direction – in a few years, all websites will need a big, colorful version for people’s desktops and a stripped down version for mobile browsing. But do you need it today? On the one hand, the folks who can pony up the $500-$600 phone, plus $60/month data package are going to have the money to be donors, and the fact that they’re early adopters means that they’ll be willing to donate online. But with such a high price tag, even the fantastic sales Apple is hoping for might not be enough to make it worth the cost of a whole new design to build and update. Yet.
The bottom line: watch your analytics to see what kind of iPhone traffic you’re getting. If it starts to become significant, it might be time to make a streamlined version of your site for iPhones. And even if not, the era of mobile browsing is coming, and it’s not too early to start thinking about how your organization will adapt. Of course, none of this is set in stone until we actually see the iPhone in action. For me, the hefty price tag means that I won’t be test driving one until the cell phone, iPod, toothbrush, GPS, Rubik’s cube and remote control it wants to supplant need replacement.