Useful Notes/Going Mobile YKTTW Discussion

Useful Notes/Going Mobile
(permanent link) added: 2011-01-04 17:15:38 sponsor: 0dd1 (last reply: 2011-01-12 06:51:36)

Add Tag:
It's past its three days, but I want to reach some consensus before launching or discarding this.
  • Addendum: Will be launched soon, if nobody objects.

Unfortunately, the mobile arena introduces a layer of complexity that can be difficult for developers to accommodate. Mobile development is more than cross-browser, it should be cross-platform. The vast number of mobile devices makes thorough testing a practical impossibility, leaving developers nostalgic for the days when they only had to support legacy browsers.

The Internet has evolved greatly since its inception, to the point where not only do an extremely large number of people with computers use it or at least have some internet service, but an extremely large number of people with mobile devices (e.g.: cell phones, PDAs, iPods and iPads, portable gaming consoles, e-readers) are able to use these devices to access it.

Unfortunately, the Mobile Web poses many problems. One of the largest of these is that most websites with more complex layouts will end up looking completely butchered, if not completely incomprehensible on some mobile devices. Backgrounds may be lost, and navigation can be hampered due to the lack of a mouse. Additionally, many elements that have become standard on the web (such as Java applets or use of Adobe Flash) will not work well, if at all.

To rectify this, many webmasters create mobile versions of their websites to help to better support people who use the Mobile Web. These are usually very watered down visually but specifically designed to give as much functionality to Mobile Web users as possible. Sometimes there will even be different designs for different devices; for example, Google as rendered on an iPhone will look quite different from how it is rendered on a basic cell phone's internet browser.

This definitely exists when one is talking about the very earliest generations of Internet-enabled cellphones that for various technological reasons could not handle regular websites. In order to improve the experience, either specialized protocols were used (like WAP) or in some cases websites would be rewritten on the fly to try and shrink the page to fit. However, these sorts of things were done on the early smartphones because either the bandwidth was low, and often because the display resolutions were much lower.

Now, Internet enabled phones are common and the displays are relatively rich, not only in terms of the raw pixel resolution, but the user interface and display technology have become more sophisticated with tricks like on-the-fly panning and scaling of the page to optimize the view, the impact of using the Web from small devices is less drastic. Comparing a current iPhone or Android phone with what one could get even five years ago is a huge difference (anyone remember what using the web was like from something like a Motorola RAZR?). Now that pad computers are becoming popular, this becomes even less of an issue.

However, the idea of a simplified layout on a mobile device still holds, not because of resolution but for simple readability. Stuff like Wikipanion (The Other Wiki's smartphone app) and Gizmodo's mobile counterpart have a more vertical layout, no banner ads (as they have a tendency to become messed up on iPhones and Androids), and a larger font size. Because simplified layouts are preferred for mobile browsing on any device, this keeps mobile versions of websites from becoming extinct. As aforementioned, some websites may have their own specific versions tailored to devices such as smartphones or pad computers.

This Very Wiki by virtue of the wiki format dodges the worst of the typical issues of the Mobile Web. It doesn't really use any Java or Flash, no really complicated tricks with multiple frames or embedded objects; it's all just text and images.

Note: Do not add any websites to the list below unless they are particularly notable or major examples.

IGNORE THE SIDE NOTES BELOW THE LINE THAT IS BELOW THESE SIDE NOTES. They don't really apply anymore since I'm turning this into a Useful Notes page. However, discussion to improve the description and about whether or not examples should even be put are welcomed greatly.

  • If anyone could expand on this, if even necessary, please feel free to.
  • I haven't a clue where this can be indexed.
  • Should we make a separate section for those sites with iPhone/smartphone/whatever applications?
  • If the list gets to be too long, should we just make a list of the notable and unusual examples?
  • While this is still in the developing stages, I'd like to think examples should follow the following format for those with multiple mobile sites:
    * Website
    ** And so on as needed
  • By the way, How Did We Miss This One??)

(And yes, the Trope Namer is the song by The Who, despite the song not really being related to the Mobile Web at all, especially since it was written/recorded/released quite some years before even the internet itself became realized.)

Some notable websites with mobile versions of their sites include:

  • Some notable search engines (Google, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • Gawker Media and its related sites (e.g.: Gizmodo, Slate)
  • - has its own iPhone application
  • Most social networking sites (e.g.: Facebook, MySpace, Formspring, etc.) have not only their own multiple versions of mobile sites, but also their own applications for smartphones.
  • xkcd, even with its own button to read the Alt Text for each comic
  • Notable online shopping websites (e.g.: eBay, Amazon)
  • The Other Wiki has both a mobile app and a mobile website.
  • Wikia (and, by extension, the various Wikis it hosts) has a mobile site.
  • The Pokémon fansite Team Rocket's Rockin' is notable in that they made a version of the site specifically tailored to people browsing the web on the Wii.

Replies: 11