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Showcase of Designs Optimized for iPhone

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Over the last couple of years, mobile devices have managed to gain mainstream popularity. With iPhone, making mobile Web applications finally usable by broad masses, web design can now be applied to mobile applications as well. In this post we are focusing on designs that are specifically optimized for mobile devices, in particular iPhone.

Though iPhone’s Safari browser is able to render any website just like you would see it on a desktop browser, the available screen area is much smaller than in common “classic” displays. This poses a new challenge for designers and developers who now can reach millions of users that use mobile Web. Websites that are specifically optimized for the iPhone utilize the screen to the fullest extent, and use less bandwidth (which is necessary, because the connectivity is not always optimal).

The iPhone browsing experience is quite different than the regular browsing experience. The buttons and hyperlinks have to be bigger because our fingers are not as sharp as the mouse pointer. Optimizing a website for iPhone is not rocket science. It’s the same HTML, CSS and JavaScript that you already know. The only major difference is the screen size.

In the showcase below we present some of the interesting, interactive and beautiful designs that are optimized for the iPhone. You will also learn about some handy tools that will help you optimize your website for the iPhone.

Also consider our previous articles:

1. News / Entertainment Link

Sevnth Sin
The unique navigation makes this site very interactive. Nice concept, nice colors.

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Blip.tv
Perfectly suits the theme: video entertainment! Clean and clear typography.

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NBC
The YouTube-style design makes it very easy to navigate and find shows.

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Zinio
That’s a kit of magazines, all one-touch away!

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Spin The Bottle
A simple bottle spinning game. Good use of graphics.

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Daily Wallpaper
Similar to Zinio, but 2 thumbnails in a row make it more easy to navigate around.

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AOL Horoscopes
Very well designed for a horoscope site. Matching color scheme throughout.

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Yahoo Omg!
Fresh look, vibrant colors and lively typography make this design fun to browse and easy to read. The design also matches the celebrity gossip theme.

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2. Business / Corporate Link

DPTO
Different tones of red make this design look very attractive on the iPhone. The 3D menu looks very nice — perfect for a marketing and design agency.

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Mind Medium Creative
The use of gradients make the overall site look very shiny on the iPhone. The menu is very to-the-point. A nice composition and execution.

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Redhawk Investment Advisors
This design has a very corporate feel to it. Good use of colors.

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Nike Lab
Just what to expect from Nike. Sporty and energetic design.

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Procab Studio
Procab studio showcases their work portfolio and other information about the agency. Well placed content. The font size is a bit too small, though.

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Hotel Monterilla
The design makes you want to go there for a vacation. The design has a very comforting feel to it. A perfect color scheme.

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Viget Labs
A blue background, appropriate padding and rounded corners make this simple design look vibrant and attractive.

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Batali Associates
This is one of the good examples of design optimization for the iPhone. It clearly looks like it was really made for the iPhone, not just duplicated.

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Ready For iPhone
A company that provides iPhone optimized website solutions. The finger on the “Go” looks intuitive.

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Element Fusion
Another showcase website that provides design services. Looks like a cut-down version of the actual website.

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Volkswagon
A showcase gallery for Volkswagon. Easy to navigate around. Clean and clear content.

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3. Shopping / E-Commerce Link

Torn Robes
A nice example of a mobile e-Commerce site. Just touch your favourite design, have a look at it and buy it. Looks very vibrant.

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Coosh
A single-product e-Commerce site. Branded very well.

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Walmart
This design doesn’t really meet the expectations from WalMart — however, the design is still in beta. The usability is good, though: it is very easy to search for products and stores. You can also create shopping lists.

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4. Portfolio / Blog Link

World Ending Blog (Japanese)
Although we did not understand a word there, it is very well designed for the iPhone. Every page is optimized and provides a good browsing experience.

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Signal Element
Simple and clean design: just 3 pages, but very well designed.

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One Crimson Splash
This is the portfolio of James Finley. The choice of colors and content placement are very good.

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5. Education / Content Link

MIT
What else to expect from MIT? Simple, clean, user-friendly.

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101 Cook Books
Not really a fancy design, but it’s the simplicity and clarity of content that makes it appear in this showcase.

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Please Fix The iPhone
A good design that provides the desktop browsing experience. It is very easy to find what you are looking for.

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1881
The Norwegian telephone directory online. The combination of bright blue, orange and white looks really good.

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AOL Food
Heaven for those who love to cook. Just keep your iPhone with you in the kitchen, and let this nice design help you make a delicious dinner.

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Deviant Art
A nice way to browse art on the iPhone. The color scheme is good, and it makes the artwork look prominent. Very easy to navigate and search. Also, appropriately sized thumbnails.

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Last but not least, some words of wisdom…

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Tools to design a website for iPhone Link

There are some libraries and kits available to help you iPhoneize your design.

  • iPhoney
    iPhoney gives you a pixel-accurate web browsing environment—powered by Safari—that you can use when developing web sites for iPhone. It’s a perfect tool to see how your web creations will look on iPhone.
  • Test iPhone
    A web browser based simulator for quickly testing your iPhone web designs.
  • iWebKit (Demo)
    iWebKit is a file package designed to help you create your own iPhone and iPod Touch compatible website or webapp. Comes with various ready-to-use themes.
  • iUI
    iUI is a framework consisting of a JavaScript library, CSS, and images for developing iPhone web designs. It makes your web designs look and feel like iPhone’s native applications.
  • Intersquash (Demo)
    Not really a helpful tool for designing, but you can instantly create an iPhone compatible site from your RSS feed url.
  • WPtouch
    For WordPress users: WPtouch transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from an iPhone or iPod touch.
  • Jaipho Gallery (Demo)
    If your website features a photo gallery, Jaipho will optimize it for iPhone users.

Further Resources Link

Don’t stop here. Check out these other great tutorials and guidelines.

  • iPhone Reference Library
    Apple’s official iPhone reference library for developers. It has everything you need to get started: guidelines, code-examples, tutorials, etc.
  • How to build a website for iPhone
    This step-by-step tutorial includes everything you need to do when building a website for iPhone. Instructions for orientation direction also included.
  • iPhone Compatible CSS layouts
    Free website layouts which work in all the common web browsers including Safari on the iPhone and iPod touch.
  • iPhone Interface Samples
    This includes samples for iPhone interface elements like buttons, fonts, text, design patterns, hacks 6 more.
  • iPhoneWebDev Examples
    Very helpful examples for alot of things. Direction change, events, fonts, compression, etc.
  • iPhone Application UI Design Patterns
  • cssiphone.com
    A showcase of designs optimized for iPhone.
Smashing Book #5

Hold on tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? For example, Smashing Book 5, packed with smart responsive design patterns and techniques.

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Adeel Raza is a young entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience on the web. He specializes in user interface, user experience and beautiful design. He loves finding gems out of dirt and showcasing them on his gallery Inspire Mix. Follow him on Twitter to say hi!

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  1. 1

    Great article… but only IPhone.

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  2. 2

    Awesome showcase, keep going.

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  3. 3

    Great article, but it’s VolkswagEn, not VolkswagOn.

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  4. 4

    Would be interested to see an article that combines Android and the iPhone.

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  5. 5

    Very nice !!! Thank you !!!

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  6. 6

    of course, you could just re-title this and name it “designs optimized for webkit mobile”, since this would work also in an Android phone.

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  7. 7

    I have found mobify.me to be a really clever and mostly straightforward web app for creating an iPhone (and other mobile device)-ready website. There’s a WordPress plugin and stuff. I can’t believe you didn’t mention it!

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  8. 8

    Some great iphone optimisations here. The Deviant Art one especially. For those running WordPress there are a few plugins that will optimise your site immediately for mobile devices, we have recently reviewed two on The Floating Frog website. The first, WPtouch, uses a one theme suits all approach and is easy to implement. The second is Wapple Architecture mobile, which optimising your current stylesheet to retain your brand but optimses your content for mobile devices. Optimisation for mobile devices is a shrude move as it can save you a lot of bandwidth while engaging your audience through an increasingly popular digital medium.

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  9. 9

    Greaaat article, I appreciated it.
    Another nice shopping web site i saw lately on my iphone is American Eagle

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  10. 10

    Great article! Has lots of useful resources and really great inspiration.
    Thanks

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  11. 11

    Another to consider. http://mobile.mellowmushroom.com/ on you iPhone. Has both basic mobile and iPhone versions detected.

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  12. 12

    This is a good list, but there are a ton more at http://www.cssiphone.com. Many of these might have come from there.

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  13. 13

    Yea, most of these came from http://cssiphone.com. Might want to cite it?

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  14. 14

    The VolkswagEn typo was my fault, if you go over to CSSiPhone.com you’ll see I began the typo over there. :)

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  15. 15

    HAHA Everything here came from the most popular iPhone Web Gallery on the net, CSSIphone.com. What a rip. Next time try citing your sources? Learned how to cite in 6th grade I believe.

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  16. 16

    great article. as rhys mentioned I’d be interested in combining web dev for android & iphone as well – and an comparison which other phones would be capable of displaying such a site.

    for our company’s thin client management software I used iui – went quite well, much better than xcode and it works on the android as well, even if the animation isn’t as smooth as on the iphone.

    demo of it on video if you want to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG7UclaYtl4

    cheers chris

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  17. 17

    2 more resources:

    http://www.jqtouch.com – A jQuery plugin for mobile web development on the iPhone,
    Android, Palm Pre, and other forward-thinking devices.

    http://phonegap.com – PhoneGap is an open source [web] development tool for building fast, easy mobile apps with JavaScript. Have support for iPhone.

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  18. 18

    This is a fantastic resource. Thank you for putting this together. Very useful for showing clients what the iPhone is capable of, and what other players in the industry are doing with it.

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  19. 19

    Hey thanks Josh for mentioning Mobify! For those looking for Android & BlackBerry compatibility and a consistent workflow, check out what our users did at http://mobify.me/gallery/

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  20. 20

    nice article,

    i should learn how to design for iphone soon :P
    thanks

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  21. 21

    Another really good mobile site is Toyota’s Prius site.

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  22. 22

    eHow.com has a pretty sweet iPhone experience too.

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  23. 23

    This is great, as I should improve my blog to fit the eyeFaun-format. :’3

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  24. 24

    design for vertical spaces is back

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  25. 25

    Another incredible article on SmashMag where they neglect to (a) make sure their authors aren’t ripping content from another site (b) at least credit the source and cite the material they’re using.

    I checked out the typo scenario, its the same typo here and on cssiphone.com.

    If CSSIPHONE stays updated, sure these guys will have more to pull from, haha. ROAR!

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  26. 26

    Great article. The resources are quite useful: i just tried WPtouch, it works like a charm and my blog is now iPhone compatible :) Thanks for the good read!

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  27. 27

    Awesome

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  28. 28

    I agree with many of the previous comments. Articles similar to these show be called “Showcase of Designs Optimized for Mobile Phones”… not specifically “iPhone”… As a Mobile Analyst, the Android will carry more market share over the next 3-5 years, as more devices and more carriers support the open platform.

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  29. 29

    great resources!!

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  30. 30

    nice stuff! always to the right time :)

    by the way: the “iPhone Reference Library” links point’s to http://www.marketcircle.com/iphoney

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