polishing (for) small screens

for ease of surfing.

In this case it is not so much about polishing the screen surface – important enough in itself, as about polishing what risks ending up being viewed and inter­acted with on those small screens. Making content-delivery and func­tion­ality work flaw­less on screens with limited space, put restric­tions on layout and design, and demands on crea­tivity.
Better to lay out and calculate in all important design details from the start, than to have to try to shoe­horn solu­tions in later … or maybe have to leave them out allto­gether for lack of space and func­tional hooks (prepared elements) in the perma­nent layout.

Have finally taken, or found, the time to go through most of this site on an actual smart­phone, and eval­u­ated how things appear and behave on these smaller screens. Most works exactly as intended and tested/​emulated on wider screens while I've been building up the layout/​design and added content, but nothing beats hours of testing and simply reading through and looking at lineup details as they appear on a cross-section of my pages in regular smart­phones.

I guess (or maybe just hope(?)) that few visitors expect better, or different, layout/​design solu­tions than what they find on the majority of sites that are prepared for smart­phones.
I don't know about better – mainly a question about personal pre­fer­ences, but some of my solu­tions clearly are different from the majority of small-screen prepared web sites. No big deal either way, as long as sites work reasonably well for the majority of visitors and there are no technical or programatical barriers which demand specific solutions at the user-end.

surfing on smart­phones

First thing I missed while surfing around and correcting typos and minor details on my own site, was an ever-present, fixed, in-page link to navigation, same as at the bottom on wider screens. See screenshot in side notes for a look at how I chose to solve that “minor” detail. The semi-transparent circle with “#nav” written at an angle in it in lower-right screen-corner, that when tapped will move focus to the navigation area in the page-footer. The angled text is to make it stand out when it overlaps regular text in pages.
I utilize generated content styled out from the regular “navigation” link on top of page, same as I do on wide screens, only styled different to work for screen-tapping. That is; the hook was in place, but was not fully utilized until now.

That navigation ends up being in the middle of pages with well-filled footer/​addendum, is the result of me not wanting to have cross-site navigation on top of pages as is more the norm. That is also why I do not have, or see the need for, “jump to content” or “jump to top” links in pages. The “jump to navigation” is the only link always needed on screen on my site, as that is where one wants to be once the content on one page is consumed, IF one found the stuff I (may) have produced and spread around worth continued surfing on gunlaug.com for.

makes for easy reads

The other detail I tested more thoroughly this time around, was text-softening, which I chose to tune up ever so slightly even if it seemed to work quite well with large-screen values on those small screens. Being easy to read on small screens, also under varying light conditions, is high on my priority list.

Trimming of the other text-softening classes a little was then of course also necessary. Fonts on the web may not come with much weight-variation within each font-family, but my solu­tion to that minor issue still works well enough via the screens I have tested it on to be worth opti­mi­zing.

The rest of the styling related to text, like font-size, line-height, font-weight, color, etc., seems to work as intended in their SSR versions, so all in all I seem to have gotten it more or less right from the start. Lucky me…

What little visual design there is for small screens – windows/​screens narrover than 643px – does in my opinion work OK in how it frames and supports content without dis­tracting.

not your typical smartphone user

To use smart­phones for surfing most definitely isn't one of my favorite pass-time activities. I prefer at least lap­top size screens for both online and off­line acti­vi­ties in the digital world, and only keep a smartphone for emergency use, and to make regular calls with when I'm away from home.

As I have had to stay at a nursing home for a while, with lots of off-time, the phone (con­nec­ted via WiFi) saved me from boredom and distracted my mind from phantom pain. Going through and correct as many as possible of all the minor design flaws that had slipped through the cracks and dropped out of mind over the years since I launched this site, was way better than to stare at the walls and try to sleep.
Back home I keep the smart­phone off and charged, as backup in case our fiber­optic con­nec­tion or local network fail, or I'm off to some­thing. I do not like to be disturbed and distracted while “meditating”, and my closest family and friends, and other key people, know how to reach me.

It most certainly is not because I am against, or not familiar with, mobile and/​or “smart” phones as such, that I keep and use mine only as “safety backups”. I have had, and used, mobile phones since back in the early -80s, when they were analogue and any­thing but smart, of the size and weight of a small pile of bricks, and most had to be installed in cars in order to become really mobile.

In the beginning of the mobile phone era in Norway, one had to call the central operator first, who then called up the one on mobile or fixed phone one wanted to talk to. A radio channel was assigned for the caller and the called, and anyone who wanted to could listen in – not much privacy. All a bit primi­tive at first (from 1966 onward), and it took a couple of decades before first generation digi­tiza­tion ("NMT" from 1986 onward) started to take over the mobile network all over Norway and Scandinavia.
In fact, the last employment I had before becoming my own boss, involved installing and main­taining the last gene­ra­tion analogue and first gene­ra­tion digital “mobile bricks”, and I most certainly found, and still find, mobile com­muni­ca­tion units very use­ful, even more so as they by now have become a lot smaller, lighter, and a whole lot smarter.

Have only bought new phones when the old ones showed signs of failing, which meant every five-six years or so. Sturdy rather than top notch models, as to me a phone is some­thing I can rely on and not an item for showing off.

As I grow older, being able to quickly acquire medical assis­tance at any time from any­where, has become more important and has proven to be life-saving several times already. Chances are I may end up in such situa­tions again, so to be without good com­muni­ca­tion devices – fixed and/​or mobile – is not an option.
Still, I neither want nor need to be within reach 24‐7‐365 by everyone, as is more or less the norm in our socie­ties these days (with wired and wire­less IoT all over). Thus, my smart­phone only gets turned “on” to check for basic updates of its software, and when I want and need it to.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 10.aug.2022
last rev: 10.aug.2022

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