Why Jumpstart Needs to Go Mobile
Hi everyone! I’m a web designer thanks to Neopets. I started making user lookups way back in 2004 using Jenny’s Darkest Faerie Lair tutorials (anyone else remember Jenny way back in the early 2000’s?) and couldn’t stop. I kept creating guild layouts for people on the guild boards like crazy using paint. PAINT! People loved it. Then I got into Photoshop Elements, and after took graphic design classes. All around everything on the web started because of good ‘ol Neo.
I want to talk to you all today about something interesting that popped up a few months ago. A huge internet company said that they aren’t hosting websites that aren’t mobile anymore. This is big for Neopets because they are a non-friendly mobile site.
What is a mobile site you ask? Mobile friendly means website layouts that fit tablets and smartphones. You won’t have to scroll back or fourth to see the whole page; everything comes together like a puzzle piece. Neopets needs a new layout in general – it’s very 2005 – and Jumpstart knows that, but building a new website takes a whole lot of time and dedication, and TNT are still busy fixing other parts of the site.
However, mobile needs to be a priority. Besides the reason that Jumpstart not having a mobile site will lead to less traffic and revenue, a large amount of non-computer usage on websites are increasing every day. Studies show that mobile devices are slowly but surely becoming the primary search tool of choice, with as much as 50% of users begin their search with a mobile device. Studies also show that mobile will overtake desktop in the upcoming years, and recent data indicates that up to 173 million consumers in the United States owns a smartphone which is 72% of the population.
Not only that, Chrome and Firefox – the biggest internet browsers – stated they’re getting rid of NPAPI (Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface) which was first developed for Netscape browsers in 1995… before Neopets was even born. It’s a type of flash player, and also what Neo has on all their flash games. This might not directly affect you, but it affects Neopets since the site is somewhat based on flash. It’s easy to fix but it goes to show you that we need an updated site.
If Jumpstarts starts on a website now they’ll more than likely use HTML5. What is HTML5, you ask? It’s a type of code that uses animation without flash and easier to maintain. It’s also “responsive”. What a responsive website means is when you make your browser bigger or smaller the site flows with you. So if you make your browser smaller a long worded paragraph will stay the same and you’ll be able to read it without scrolling left or right. Same with navigation and images. It’s like a different website depending on the size of your browser. There are many features you can use in HTML5 and it would be a great switch not only for the site itself but for the people who maintain it.
The wonderful and awful thing about code is it changes all the time. It’s wonderful because the change is usually better. When CSS3 came out in 2010 everyone was in awe. There was more things you could do… like animation and cleaner lines of code, and it was easier to make certain attributes happen that you couldn’t do before. Now, five years later, CSS4 is coming out. Every web designer is going to play with it like it’s their new toy and it’s going to be amazing. That’s the good part. Now, the bad part is since CSS4 is new, CSS3 will eventually be outdated. Way in the future web designers will have to clean up a whole website because the code – that was once brand new and fun to play with – will be old and needs to be converted into newer and better code. That’s exactly what happened with Neopets. It was once ahead of its time. The website was up to standards and aligned with every other site in existence. Then new features came out and Viacom didn’t keep up. The site became outdated and now is being left behind in the dust while newer and mobile friendly sites are in the forefront. Let’s jump ahead ten years from now. Someone will look back at this article and say “CSS4? Jeez this is old”.
I’m sure Jumpstart knows a Neopets app will get them more revenue and users on the site. The research and studies clearly show it needs to be a priority. The problem is certain site features keep breaking and there needs to be updating the old code before the new. I know many people are asking for an app or mobile friendly site, but as a web designer myself let me tell you that’s not going to happen for a while. Coding a new site PLUS a mobile app takes a ton of time and dedication. It’s not something that will be done in months. I wouldn’t be surprised if this takes another year or so. There’s so much that goes into a new site. There are thousands of pages on Neopets and they’ll have to convert every single one of them, plus I’m assuming they’ll add new features that weren’t there before.
In conclusion: Times are changing and Neopets needs to keep up with the times or get left behind. Right now they’re behind, but let’s hope that it will change soon! I believe in Jumpstart and know they’re on top of internet trends. All we can do now is hypothesis what the app will look like and features it could have. As a web designer I’m curious if they’ll use HTML5… which is the geek in me. I’m sorry. I’d also love to code guild layouts and user lookups with updated code as well. Good luck TNT with your endeavors!