When designing for wireless application protocol (WAP) sites and devices, there are several useful tips a designer can use in creating an effective WAP design. She may want to consider the audience and the types of mobile devices they tend to use. Also, she may wish to keep in mind any limitations of the devices, the users’ ability to interact. Other factors to consider include the user’s possible location, along with how and why the user is accessing the application or mobile site.
One important tip is that the designer should try to learn as much as she can about the application or mobile site’s users and their mobile devices. This will help her design with the needs of users in mind. The designer can also research the features and constraints of the device so the design is both effective and usable.
Another tip is for the designer to consider the smaller screens of WAP devices compared to personal computers and laptops. With the small screen, a WAP design may be more useful when it is uncluttered and the most essential information is easily accessible. Graphics for a WAP design are often smaller both visually and in file size. Simple links to other information can be effective on a WAP as well.
When designing navigation, a suggestion for designers is to think about how users select options on a given device. Their devices may allow them to tab with a keyboard, use alternate key combinations, or use touch screens. A WAP design should allow the user to easily and accurately navigate through the application or mobile site.
The user may also be using the device under conditions that vary greatly from an office or home environment. In the case of traditional website design, the users are often at a desk or table, using a personal computer or a laptop. The WAP design user may be in a moving car, walking through a shopping mall, running on a trail, or another activity. Internet connections may be less reliable for users accessing through mobile devices. This increases the importance of keeping the designs lightweight and fast loading.
With the different locations the user may be in, the type of information she may be interested in can also differ. A user who is out shopping and decides to take in a movie may use a theater’s mobile site to show times and even purchase tickets online. She is less likely to be interested in company history.
Prototyping and testing the WAP design is one more recommended practice. The designer may wish to begin testing with paper prototypes, as they are relatively inexpensive to create and still provide useful feedback. Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) prototypes may also be tested. Although these are more expensive than paper prototyping, the test will emulate the actual user experience more closely.