I've recently been exploring the emerging web experience thanks to Kai OS, a new breed of internet-connected feature phone. In emerging markets, hundreds of millions of users are now getting connected to the internet for the first time. Unfortunately the internet is quite a chore to browse on micro-browsers and tiny non-touch screens.
Right off the bat, I've come up with a few tips to make browsing on a tiny Kai OS device more bearable. These aren't your typical mobile standards!
That's right, my first unusual tip is to totally lose your site's header in favour of the site's title which is shown permanently on the address bar. Perhaps a little extreme, but your logo alone might take up over half the screen in some cases! If you really want to keep a header, try to make it as small as possible, preferable no larger in height than one line of test. Also lose the image and make it text if possible.
The less clicks needed to navigate your site on Kai OS, the better. I propose ditching the hamburger menu on micro-sizes and opting for plaintext links instead. Keep the text small and allow only up to three links per row.
More scrolling is better than more clicks
You want your page to consume as little data as possible to be considerate of data rates in developing countries. Hide your images behind plaintext links and don't load them until they're requested. This also makes your page more scrollable and easier to navigate.
Ditch your fixed header and footer- these will make your site completely, utterly unusable on tiny screens. Your viewport is already miniscule so every pixel counts!
Pop-ups are the bane of micro-web-browsing. Some websites, even W3Schools, are impossible to navigate because there is a pop-up that obscures the screen. Hopefully, as the OS matures its browser will allow a better mouse-like cursor so we can close pop-ups.
If you can't avoid a pop-up or modal, at least give it a big close button, preferably at the top where it's easy to reach.
Those are my first quick-fire tips for creating bearable web experiences on Kai OS and other internet-connected feature-phones. Developing websites that offer a decent experience on these devices is a challenge, but we shouldn't disregard this massive group of new users who are diving into an internet that is quite inaccessibile already.