Mobile Website Required Solution

Internet usage on mobile devices is a massive growth area and whilst SharePoint does provide an ‘out of the box’ solution that caters for collaboration sites, the user experience for publishing sites (intranet and public sites) is limited and lacks an engaging interface. This in turn increases the chance of the user browsing away from the site.
 
For that reason we were engaged by Northamptonshire County Council to create a secondary website tailored for mobile devices. The solution we provided needed to redirect any mobile device users to a mobile version of their Internet SharePoint website and replicate the content in a design that is consistent with NCC’s corporate branding but formatted to target mobile devices. The design will also need to conform to the strict accessibility guidelines for public sector websites. The home page should be easy to navigate and be rendered top down. It should also contain the relevant meta tags to force the browser to display it in the “mobile format”. All pages should link back to both the mobile home page, and the “main” website.
 

Reducing site size for mobiles

It is of great importance that the mobile site is as small as possible so it is fast on mobile devices, which may suffer from reduced bandwidth.
 

Our Approach

The data used throughout the project almost exclusively comes through web services provided by the client’s platform. A thorough testing model was required due to the plethora of popular mobile operating systems:
  • iOS Fennec
  • Samsung bada
  • Android
  • Opera Mobile
  • Blackberry
  • Symbian
  • Palm webOS
  • MeeGo
 

Solution features

Mobile Redirection

We implement a method for detecting mobile devices and redirecting users to the new mobile website when applicable. This is deployed into the SharePoint internet site and is configurable in terms of enabling/disabling and the URL to redirect to. We redirect users to a separate web application from the main website, running on the same web farm (though the solution could just as easily be hosted separately).
 

Graceful Degradation

A key benefit to the solution that we use is Graceful Degradation. This means that each mobile page will degrade according to the functionality available on that device. So on newer devices the pages will utilise full functionality with, for example, transitions between pages and JavaScript driven menus, whereas older devices may render the text in simple HTML.
 
The most important function is to deliver the content to as many devices as possible and that is exactly what our solution will deliver. The solution also adapts the input and display of the page to suit the device, e.g. larger buttons for touch input.
 

Find Nearest Facility

Users will select a type of location to search for and also enter a postcode or select a town/village. Upon hitting “Search” they will be displayed a list of matching results. They will have the option to amend their search criteria from this results page.
 
Future planned work is to utilise the device’s GPS to lock an accurate location, enabling the site to deliver localised results according to the users requirements.
 
 

Benefits

Cost Savings

This project has the potential to generate great savings for the council; every time the website is used, instead of a call to the Customer Service Centre this could save up to £2 per inquiry.
 

One ‘App’ for all platforms

With all mobile platforms able to use this solution, the requirement to develop individual apps for each platform - iPhone apps, Android apps etc. are no longer necessary, again saving money on development.
 

Wider audience

With more and more people opting for mobile devices over more traditional hardware, the site allows you to reach this ever growing audience.
 

Targeted Content

This solution enables you to target mobile users with location centric services e.g Bus Times, nearest service, etc.
 

Future Proof

Technology- frame work based development approach ensures this solution keeps pace with mobile technologies and new devices.