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How to Optimize Your Website for Wearable Devices

By Amit Diwan

Wearable Technology is the latest “next big thing” and its main focus is making life simpler. But would you believe the story of ‘wearables’ starts in the 1970s?

The story starts with a shoe computer in 1972, The Eudaemons. Then the Wearable Wireless Webcam in 1995, with Steve Mann’s Lifelogging experiments. Most recently the ground breaking, but controversial Google Glass in 2013. There were more than 10 successfully launched wearable devices in this 40 year period.

According to a survey by strategy analytics,

“Emerging Wearable Devices Market Will Reach Sales of 125 Million Units in 2017, as Developer Interest Increases Nine-fold”

The chart shows figures from the report and the predicted increase in developer interest for wearables.

Design Principles for Wearable Technology

Wearable technology will redefine the world. The shift to the proliferation of mobile devices meant that many new design principles had to be created and learned. The same will apply with Wearables, so don’t get left behind!

Following are some of the design principles you can apply to your web sites and apps now to help create an interface to suit all users.

A sample of wearable devices

Interactive

The basic function of a website is to provide readable content. Wearables’ main focus is simple interactivity and short bursts of content, generally presented on smaller screens. Users may be interacting through voice control, so ensure your sites conform to accessibility best standards to make this possible.

A great summary of these techniques is the Android Wear ‘Best Practices for Interaction and Engagement’ page.

Responsive

We may think that responsive design is common practice nowadays, this isn’t the case. We are now about to add even more screen sizes (and shapes) to the potential targets for our sites. Many content management systems and frameworks provide templates for making responsive design easier, make sure you use one.

Read ‘Designing for Multiple Screens’ page on the Android Developers site for more ideas.

Minimalistic Design

Don’t overdo your design just to attract users, sometimes simple works far better than complex. Minimalistic design aims for flexibility across all devices, especially wearables. Create designs that give content priority over all else, allowing you to reduce the clutter of other screen elements when displayed on wearables.

Text

Design with clear and crisp fonts that will still work on smaller screen sizes and resolutions of wearable devices. This may mean using different fonts on wearable versions of your site than on mobile or desktop.

Resources

Keen to learn more? Below are some resources and upcoming conferences to get you inspired and excited about the potential of Wearables.

Amazon’s Open wearable technology store

Amazon launched a store dedicated for wearable technology in April 2014. It features more than 100 wearable tech devices. They’ve also created an e-learning centre consisting of a video library providing more information about wearable technology.

Amazon's Wearable store

Image Source

Make it Wearable: Intel

Intel launched a contest for innovators all over the world to submit their wearable app ideas. It’s a great site for exploring applications of this new platform.

Intels Innovation competition

Wearable Technology Conference and Expo

This is the biggest event for those interested in the Wearable Tech market. The next is to be held on 10th to 11th March, 2015 in London.

wearabletechnologyshow.net

Wearables Expo

Wearable Tech Expo

This event is held from June 2nd to 4th, 2015 in New York. It’s focus is on Wearable Tech for Mobile, Data, Fitness & Sports.

wearabletechworld.com/conference/newyork

Wearable Tech logo

Wearable Technologies Conference 2014

This is the 13th WT Conference to be held in Taipei on October 8th, 2014. The focus will be on using wearable communication to guide entertainment and health to the next level.

wearable-technologies.com/upcoming-events/

Figure 11

Wearables TechCon

This is a conference for developers and designers, so probably the best for SitePoint readers to attend.

wearablesdevcon.com

Wearables TechCon Logo

Wearable Tech Japan

The first wearable tech expo was held in March 2014, Tokyo. Techies from Japan, America and Europe announced new products and resources for wearable tech. The next expo is scheduled for 2015 and will also include Robotics.

wearabletechjapan.com

Conference image

I am sure that there will be many wearable devices emerging over the next few years that will extend the web in directions we can only imagine. Follow some of my tips and resources above and you’ll be prepared for the future.

  • Intothe Middler

    Seriously..? Seems like an advert for conferences.

    “..over the next few years that will extend the web in directions we can only imagine”.. As opposed to?

    • amit d

      Hey @intothemiddler, it seriously means new wearable devices, products, and technologies for the development of web, and to make our life simpler. Specially when companies like Intel, Amazon, Google, LG, Samsung, Sony, and many others are looking forward towards its growth. :)

  • Intothe Middler

    I mean is this a serious article as it seems more like an advert without any real technical meat to the bone (consider the title).

    Still no idea what the `we can only imagine` means in terms of context, as even the comment seems to end up sounding like a line from a vague sales pitch. “Technical stuff is good and people love it” would perhaps be a more concise summary. As “How to Optimize Your Website for Wearable Devices”, 4 very small paragraphs of vagueness, followed by making me go to a conference to find out how to optimize my website for wearable devices. Especially as most of these devices don’t allow users to search random websites for viewing..

    Perhaps give examples with some code and a wearable device at the end of the article to show.. something.. anything!

    • amit d

      Wearable Technology is in its growing stage with major discussions for future growth on werable devices by GoogleIO 2014 (http://www.sitepoint.com/google-io-2014-roundup/).
      At this point, these are some suggestions for keeping in mine – “Design Principles for Wearable Devices”. Most of these devices will work especially for seraching random website at a go in near future.
      Major future plans are discussed by companies in conferences, perhaps we get all those major information from them. So, optimising websites for wearable devices will be the major point for them incoming future. I suggest you to look forward to attend “Wearable TechCon, conference for developers and designers”.

  • M S

    “How to Optimize Your Website for Wearable Devices”

    OK, how….?

    • http://www.mixcloud.com/tobto/ tobto

      a trendy title, nothing more.

  • http://www.dave-woods.co.uk/ Dave Woods

    Agree with the other comments here, the title of this article is completely misleading as there is no information in here about “How to optimise your website for wearable devices”. I was at least expecting some information about how media queries could be used or how using HTML5 elements would be beneficial for wearables. As it stands though, this article should have been called “Which conferences to attend to learn more about wearable devices”.

  • zonicholas

    Ok, lots of conferences……..where’s the howto?

  • Chris Ward

    Hi everyone, this was a taster article, we will be having many more ‘how tos’ over the coming months. At the moment it’s hard to find writers with the necessary skills and experience in developing for wearables. If any of you do, drop me a line and I’d love to have your expertise and opinions on board.

  • http://www.mixcloud.com/tobto/ tobto

    just like a grandma, who lost her glasses on her nose, I would not want to start an epic seo for portable devices.

  • Gary A. Kline

    A better title might have been “Optimize Your Site for Wearable Devices – 4 Key Principles.”

    • Intothe Middler

      I’d thought of a better title “Wearable Conferences”, it’s about as misleading and confusing as the original, but for totally different reasons :D

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