The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (news, site) is back at work, this time developing best practices for the development and delivery of web applications on mobile devices.

Developed by the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group as part of the Mobile Web Initiative, each best practice is intended to be a possible measure towards "the goal of providing as rich and dynamic an experience as possible on a mobile Web browser."

On the whole, the best practices relate to the appropriate technologies and techniques to use for managing a Web application's data. Here's a glimpse into some of the recommendations made by the working group.

Decrease the Size, Increase Usability

  • Fewer Cookies: Information stored in cookies is sent to the server for every request; using them for excessive amounts of data can negatively impact performance.
  • Minimize Application and Data Size: Smaller applications will download and execute more quickly and more reliably than larger ones on constrained devices.
  • Avoid Redirects: Delays incurred by redirects are much higher over mobile networks and so the number of redirects should be kept to a minimum to avoid degrading the user experience.

Appropriate Storage & Accessibility

  • Use Client-Side Storage Technologies for Local Data: Making use of client-side storage in Web applications is a powerful technique that brings Web applications into parity with native applications in terms of start-up time and responsiveness.
  • Replicate Local Data To A Server If Necessary: Data that needs to be shared with other devices, or recovered in the case of a lost or damaged device, should be replicated back to the server as soon as possible.
  • Do not Execute Untrusted JavaScript: Inadvertently executing malicious JavaScript can be particularly dangerous on mobile devices where personal information (current location, contact data, etc) may be exposed.

User Awareness & Control

The mobile web best practices also focuses on user awareness and control, highlighting issues like Automatic Network Access, recommending that mobile applications disclose how they use network resources and that the means to control such activity be provided.

Ensuring a Rich Mobile User Experience

Of course, these are a just a smattering of the comprehensive suggestions and recommendations of the working group. Most of them are intuitive to anyone who has accessed mobile content.

Just like writing and designing for the web needed to be modified away from previous print standards, mobile content will need to be modified so as to ensure the user experience is as rich, dynamic and engaging.

You can read the latest version of the best practices, which is available for review and feedback only, at www.w3.org/TR/mwabp/.