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July 22, 2012

Dummies Mobile

As of this weekend, Dummies.com is fully mobile optimized for iPhone and Android devices. In general, creating a mobile site is pretty easy. Pages have simpler layouts and there are less browsers to worry about, but the challenge in this case was hooking up the mobile templates with a site that already existed. Here are the technical highlights of this project:

Sharing Content
The mobile site is setup so that editorial staff never need to logon to edit both sites. Whatever is done to the desktop site will reflect on the mobile. The structure of the sections are reading from the same source, but applying different layouts/CSS.

The store part of the site is globalized to display the relevant currency while shopping. The site now does 2 checks to the user: 1) whether they are mobile or desktop… 2) what region of the world they are in.

More time was spent on this article type than all of the others combined! This was a new type that went up on the desktop site earlier this year. Translating it to mobile line for line didn't work at all. It was important to get some sort of touch and drag functionality into it, but that's not fully supported via HTML/JS yet. The closest is a plugin called iScroll, which overrides the native scroll with its own. Check out the Pilates series for an example.

Previous work on Dummies.com allowed video content to be played back on iOS, which doesn't support Flash. Going mobile added another layer on top of this. Now there's a check for mobile device that serves up a smaller player. So…
- If you're using a computer or Android tablet, you get the Flash player at full size
- If you're using an iPad, you get an HTML5 player at full size
- If you're using an iPhone, you get a mini HTML5 player
- If you're using an Android phone, you get a mini Flash player

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