Wap sites fail to make grade, says Forrester

Businesses are trying to repackage their websites instead of designing Wap sites for mobile phones, according to a report out this week by on-line research group Forrester Research.

Following user reviews of 50 Wap sites, the Forrester report suggests that site owners have failed to master the notion of what it calls “microdesign”, that is, designing with the limited parameters required by the technology in mind.

The test sites were graded by the research group during the first three weeks of October. Of the 50 sites tested, none scored a grade considered by Forrester to be worthy of a pass – on average more than half the test criteria were failed.

“Today’s Wap sites fail for one central reason – firms are force-fitting existing Web content on to a tiny screen without considering the unique needs of mobile users,” says Forrester associate analyst Carsten Schmidt. “The lessons learned from years of website design fail to apply to mobile devices.”

Design should instead rest on three principles, the group maintains. These are “obvious navigation”; “concise content”; and “automated integration with other channels”.

Forrester’s recommendations are that sites should not require users to learn navigation systems; content should be better applied to small screens; only users who demand more depth should see it.

“To accommodate small mobile displays – four to five short lines plus one header – navigation and content must be continuously interwoven, and access to that content must be immediate, fluid and precise,” Schmidt suggests.

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