Just about everyone on the planet is online and connected these days. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, we’re almost always online in some way or another. In fact, thanks to wearables and smartwatches, we’re now more constantly connected than ever. Of course, the rise of wearables might be an incredibly exciting and convenient development for the average consumer, but for those on the other side of the screen, it can present a whole range of complex challenges.
One of the most significant of these challenges is the concept of making sure that your website actually functions on smartwatches. Whether you’re running a website for your business or a personal blog, you want to be sure that the maximum number of people can interact with it as possible and that means that you can’t take the way that your website functions on wearables for granted. Since there isn’t currently a dedicated web browsing app for things like the Apple Watch, that doesn’t present some issues for development but luckily WebKit is available which makes things a little easier. Even so, here are some things that you need to consider when making sure that your website is ready for use on smartwatches.
Clean up the overall design
A great starting point when trying to create a website that works perfectly on smartwatches is the overall design of it. After all, if you want a site that will look great on any platform, you need to make sure that the fundamental elements of it’s design are solid. Things like making sure that everything from the colour palate to the font choices are as clear and readable as possible. This is important for any website but there’s no doubt that it’s even more important on a smartwatch considering the small size of the screen.
Not only that but you should make sure that the content of your website is structured in such a way that the level of useability is as high as possible. There are plenty of ways to do this but some research into the best card sorting tool is often the best option. That way, you can be sure that your user’s experience with your website is as positive as possible, regardless of the platform that they’re using.
Use dedicated tools
There are a lot of ways in which a responsive website is already going to be ready for smartwatches but you can’t just take for granted that it’s going to work. Otherwise, you run the risk of making your website an unpleasant, or even unusable experience for a potentially large number of users. Because of that, you need to understand the tools that you’re working with. With WebKit being ported across to Apple Watches allowing people to browse websites, that means that you need to understand how WebKit works on the operating systems of smartwatches and how you can best use it to make sure that your website is fully functional. The one thing worse than a website that looks terrible on smartwatches is a website that doesn’t open at all.
There are also certain CSS tools that you should look into if you’re trying to find the best possible solutions to making your website work on smartwatches. CSS frameworks like Toucan are incredibly useful and useable when it comes to optimising a website for any device including smartwatches and other wearables.
Understand the limits of the format
To be able to make the most of any given platform, you have to understand what it is, and more importantly what it is not capable of. Smartwatches are incredible devices but there are certain ways in which WebKit on devices like the Apple Watch are more limited than the equivalent on things like iOS and the mac OS. This includes things like a lack of video playback and no web fonts. If you’re going to make sure that your website is every bit as high quality on smartwatches as on any other device, these are things that you need to take into account. Can people browsing your website on smartwatches experience it in the best possible way even with these restrictions in place? If, through testing, you discover that the answer to that question is no then you need to be willing to make adjustments in order to make the experience more positive across all platforms. Or, at the very least, you should make sure that users on smartwatches aren’t missing out on important information or content that you want to make sure that everyone is able to see.
Consider the user experience
User experience is at the centre of all web development and design but it’s important to understand the ways in which new technology changes the user experience. It’s easy to just assume that, aside from screen size and ratio, the experience of browsing the internet on a computer is the same as on a smartphone or a smartwatch but that’s simply not true. The use of things like a touch screen on a smartphone are very different to a desktop or laptop. Likewise, a smartwatch is very different from even a smartphone, Sure, you have to consider things like a touch screen just like you would on a smartphone but you also need to think about the size of the screen itself. You want to be sure that users can read everything as clearly as possible on a smartwatch screen. Otherwise, the experience of actually using your website is going to be highly unpleasant.
A fortunate thing to keep in mind is that you’re likely already thinking about the ways that you can make sure that your website is responsive as possible. After all, being able to switch between different browsers as well as staying functional on everything from tablets to smartphones will likely mean that your website is already well set up for wearables as well. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make sure that you’re doing everything you can to ensure that every single person who visits your site has the best possible experience, regardless of what kind of platform or device they’re using.