This article is from Signpost 47, Autumn 2014
Many visitors to the society’s web site (www.pnfs.org.uk) don’t use a conventional computer, they use a mobile device. Currently about one in four visitors uses a mobile phone or a tablet, and the proportion is increasing all the time. The small screen is obviously a challenge, but by pinching, zooming and sliding, it’s possible to find your way around any web page, even one designed for a full-sized screen, using a mobile phone. After a while this can get quite tedious, especially when you’re used to apps that have been designed specially for the mobile phone screen.
For a mobile phone, a web page needs to have large enough text that it can be read without zooming, and a narrow enough page that it can be viewed without needing to scroll sideways. The whole page can then be seen by scrolling up and down using your thumb. This is quite different from the way a page usually looks on a full-sized monitor.
The society’s web site has recently been improved by using a design technique called responsive web design, which means that the pages automatically reshape themselves according to the type of device being used. Specifically they respond to the width available for displaying the page.
You can see the effect by viewing a page on a phone or tablet and comparing it with the way the same page looks on a computer. Or if you don’t have a phone handy you can “pretend” using just a computer, by dragging the side border of the browser window inwards, seeing the page layout change as the window gets narrower.
When pages are mobile-phone width, you’ll see that parts of the page have rearranged themselves from side-by-side to above-and-below. Pictures have shrunk. The text is in a narrow column like a newspaper. The main menu and the search box have shrunk to icons in the top right corner that expand when you click on them. Those changes are applied gradually as the page gets narrower, so that the page layout is the best possible for whatever size of display is being used.
Hopefully these latest improvements to the society’s web site will be helpful in informing younger members of the public (who are more likely to use a mobile device) about the society, and attracting more members and volunteers.
(This web page has been edited to correct minor errors in the print version of the newsletter.)
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