Designing websites for desktops is hard enough. Between Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and the infamous Internet Explorer web developers have always had their hands full. You need to ensure users of each browser can use your site. With the advent of widespread smart phones, though, the problem is even more complicated. You need to ensure your site looks and functions well on mobile platforms.
Opera Mobile Emulator gives you a way to do just that. This desktop program mimics Opera’s mobile version perfectly, allowing you to test a given site quickly and easily. It’s also pretty fun to use as a mini-browser, if you’re looking for something like that, so even non-developers can have some fun with this one.
There are a number of mobile browsers out there; Opera Mobile is just one of them. If you want to use it on your cell phone, I suggest you read more about downloading Opera Mobile. If you want to give this program a spin on your desktop or laptop, though, keep reading.
Getting Opera Mobile
Getting Opera Mobile isn’t all that difficult; just head over to the Opera developer page to find out all the information you need to. You’ll find downloads for Windows, Mac and Linux there.
Linux users having trouble installing the Mobile Emulator, rejoice! There’s a portable version that can run on every Linux distro over at PortableLinuxApps, a site we’ve profiled in the past. Check it out if you don’t want to bother dealing with installation.
Using The Program
Fire up the program and you’ll be presented with your most-visited sites. Start using the program and you’ll quickly realize that this interface is not meant for the desktop; it’s very much a phone design. That’s obvious enough.
You can change a few settings, but not many:
Tabs aren’t visible on screen; rather, they are a button-press away:
As you can tell, this program is very much identical to the phone version of Opera Mobile. If you really want to see what it’s about I suggest you read about the mobile version of Opera.
What It’s For
As mentioned before, this program is perfect for testing whether your website works well on mobile browsers. While it’s specifically meant to show you how your site will look on Opera Mobile, it can also give you a general idea of how your site will look on all such devices. My site JustinPot.com, for example, sports a fairly unique interface. It’s kind of weird, I know, but I like it for some reason. How does it work on a mobile browser?
My experience was not a good one. Looks like I’ll be in the market for a new WordPress theme within the next couple of weeks, or at least a good mobile plugin.
MakeUseOf does have a, however, and it works really well in Opera Mobile. Good to know.
Not really a web designer? You still might be able to have fun with this one. Mobile sites tend to be less cluttered than their desktop equivalents, so this browser could be a good choice for distraction-free reading. It’s also worth trying this browser out if you’re considering getting a smart phone; it’s a pretty good way to explore how the web will look on it.
Whatever you use Opera Mobile Emulator for, you have to agree that it’s cool of the Opera team to offer it. I enjoyed playing with it, and learned a bit about my own website in the process. You can too, so check it out!
As always let us know what you think in the comments below. Also feel free to ask for help, should you need it.