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From time to time we contribute articles about mobile phone displays to various publications. We are already working on the next article!

Mobile design knowledge: design for mobile phones

Mobile phone displays are a recent field for designer: practical tips

Mantras for beginners

  • The mobile phone is an individual medium with rules of its own.
  • No mobile phone is like the other, the control concepts are not uniform.
  • Branding design, applications and internet applications follow different rules.
  • Displays have between 8000 and over 384000 pixels with only 2 or over 16 million different colours.

Graphic formats

Forget TIF and EPS! Only GIF (partially animated), JPG and PNG (8 or 32bit) are the most used formats. However, there are rogues:
  • BMP pictures that seem transparent because of a keycolour or an additional.
  • 8bit-PNG-files with alpha channel instead of the usual 1bit-transparency.
  • Several ranges of colour that colour the same png-file differently.
  • SVGs (Scalable Vektor Graphic) in which all contours have to be converted into a face must have at least five sub-specifications for which different rules apply respectively.
  • FlashLite is used for the internet but is hardly supported by the browser.

WAP/Mobile Internet

The use of frameworks generating the optimal XHTML for the individual device yield the best results:
  • scrolling is done vertically.
  • even with the same breadth of the screen, the breadth available may vary.
  • loading times can be reduced if text arrows p.ex. are used instead of pictures.
  • A neatly aranged navigation and clear orientation are vital.
  • JavaScript and Ajax can now be used on many smartphone. However, a basic version without them should always be available.

Mobile Applications

  • Installation files must be loaded once and contain structure and design.
  • Regular or action based updates of the contens are possible.
  • The users own navigational concepts can partially be implemented, however, they must be attuned to the devices control.
Annika Brinkmann
In: AGD drei|viertel — Bildung für Designer Ausgabe 03|2009 Seite 30