The Progression Of Web Development For Mobile Phones

The Progression Of Web Development For Mobile Phones

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The Progression Of Web Development For Mobile Phones

Mobile phones with color screen enabled with Java that could access the internet through were introduced to the world only in the year 1999. However, the real usage of mobile web started only after 2000. Back then, the websites were designed solely for the desktops and no special optimizations were made to the webpages for rendering on the mobile phones. The screens of the mobile phones were quite small and the limited resolution did not allow the users to utilize the website in the best way. Also, the mobile browsers did not support JavaScript etc. that further restricted the usability of the website on a mobile device.

It can be safely assumed that web development was not at all focused on mobile devices in those days. The developers had to write a separate Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) for creating interfaces that were specific to the mobile phones. It was quite limited in terms of features and functionality. However, as the time passed, big players like Apple and Google predicted the rise of mobile technology and also focused on the need to evolve the web development for the mobile devices.

Technologies That Optimized Websites For Mobile Devices

By the year 2007, mobile phones were ready to run a website in its full glory. The mobile browsers were now fitted with rendering engines that could understand JavaScript. This is the time when web development for mobile phones went through a paradigm shift. Two representations of websites were introduced on the mobile platform. First was a separate mobile website that was built specifically for mobile phones. When the users would type in the URL on a mobile browser, the mobile site was displayed as a response. It was the responsibility of the web server to identify a mobile browser and render the response accordingly.

Mobile websites were commonly used for a few years, but it had its own share of problems. The issues that hampered its usage was slow loading speed and overheads of maintaining a separate website. The slow loading speed was due to the time lost in browser detection and redirection to the mobile site.

Around the same time, developers were working on technologies that could help them optimize a website for mobile browsers as well as the regular desktops and laptops. The idea was to have a single website with a fluid layout that could adapt itself to the resolution of the screen, it was opened on. This is how responsive web design paradigm came into being. With the help of fluid grids, CSS3 media queries and resizable images, it was possible to create adaptive design layouts. Responsive web development has become a common practice nowadays and websites have to follow responsive design to ensure better ranking on search engine result pages.

Mobile web development is still in an evolutionary phase and new innovations are being carried out on a regular basis. Responsive websites work well only on those mobile phones that support JavaScript as other features like browser detection are not entirely reliable.

Mobile Web vs Mobile Apps

What businesses tried to achieve through mobile web development has now shifted to the mobile apps, partially if not entirely. As mobile apps reside inside a device, it is capable of utilizing all the native function of the mobile which is not possible with mobile web application.

Mobile apps have come across a better and more effective way of engaging the users. It is quite obvious because they are easy to access, offer offline accessibility, come with more advanced features and the list goes on. However, mobile sites also have an upper hand when it comes to certain factors like cost of development, ease of maintenance and others. We will shed some light on the differences between mobile web development and mobile app development.

Mobile Web Development

  • Cross-browser compatible
  • Cannot access device native features like camera, geo-location, gyroscope etc.
  • No offline access as files reside on remote server.
  • Easy and cost-effective to develop and maintain as same code is accessed on all devices.
  • No push notification, thus interactivity is marred.
  • Slow loading speed as all CSS and HTML files need to be accessed from server.
  • Similar design layouts for all platforms.
  • Mobile web apps do not have compatibility issues with any device.
  • Web development professionals can build web apps for all kinds of devices and browsers.

Mobile App Development

  • Targeted for a specific platform
  • Can access all native mobile device features.
  • Offline access as the app is installed on the device and can access device cache memory.
  • Development as well as maintenance cost is on the higher side as separate apps need to be developed for different OS.
  • Can send push notifications to the users depending on their browsing pattern.
  • Fast loading as all resources are available locally.
  • Specific design layout according to the target operating system.
  • May have compatibility issues with some devices leading to app crash.
  • Professionals skilled in specific technologies required for app development for different operating systems.

How To Start Developing For Mobile Web

The scope of mobile web development is quite bright and you can think of learning the development skills to build web apps for mobile devices. The technologies that you need to master in order to be a mobile web developer are HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and a few more. You can additionally learn about the tools such as PhoneGap etc. to convert your HTML5 web apps into hybrid mobile apps that can access device’s native features. All these technologies are easy to learn and implement, however, you need to devote good amount of time.

For those, who wish to register their presence on mobile web but do not have the interest to learn tools and techniques for the web development, there are web and app development companies. They can always outsource the job and concentrate on other aspects of the business.


Mobile platforms are here to stay and the web development is bound to evolve into a more advanced form than it is today. We can predict the thin line between mobile websites and mobile apps to disappear one day as ‘Internet Of Things’ takes over. As of now, every business should focus on tapping the mobile users in a more personalized manner by using mobile apps. Apart from that, a mobile-friendly website is also a must as it will help them cater those mobile users who prefer not to install apps on the mobile devices. Those who understand this evolution and can predict the upcoming trends will definitely be on the right side of success.

Author Bio: The blog has been written by Ashni Sharma, an application developer working with AppsChopper, a reputed app development firm based in Noida. Apart from being an expert programmer who creates great apps, Ashni is also a prolific writer and usually enlightens her readers with posts on technological innovations in the field of digital technology. She is an inspiration for many budding developers.



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