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
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
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.
last rev: 10.aug.2022