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Should Businesses Have Mobile Friendly Websites? 117

Posted by Cliff
from the a-website-in-your-pocket dept.
cellPhoneSafe: "A client of ours has asked us to develop a mobile friendly version of their website. Their CEO has a Pocket PC and his browsing experience of his site is not great. However, aside from keeping him happy, is there a business case for a mobile friendly version of his site? Is there actually any volume of web surfers using a Pocket PC, Palm, or other web-capable pocket devices? It's one thing to convince a client of the benefit of supporting Mozilla (else they'll loose 10% of potential customers), but how do the figures stack up for mobile users? To be honest, I'd be surprised if mobile users accounted for more than 1 in a 1000 visitors to a site, so I'd be interested in your experiences. Have you developed a website for mobile users? Were you overwhelmed with new customers? Did these mobile users expect a different service offering to traditional PC users?"
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Should Businesses Have Mobile Friendly Websites?

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:37PM (#14603238) Journal

    I can only speak from my personal experiences with mobile internet, and they've been mostly disappointing, but I think the shortcoming is more in the form factor and less in the reluctance or resistance of the internet developers to provide mobile compatible web sites.

    I first surfed "mobile" with a cell phone, "duette" (can't remember the manufacturer, doesn't matter). It had a small something-like six or seven line black and white character based screen. The access to the internet was provided by the phone service, and apparently they pretty much mapped the web sited you would access, there was no notion of "address bar" (that I remember). The speed was slow, the sites were rarely updated, and the presentation was terrible.

    Fast forward to a month ago when I got the latest Palm with hi-res screen and wi-fi built in. I mostly got it for the high quality screen (which has not disappointed) but looked forward to also having near hi-res internet experience. This device has essentially half-VGA resolution and hence gives "normal" surfing access to the internet.

    I've not encountered too many sites that bother to accommodate mobile devices, and after using the Palm TX for a while I see why. The Palm is probably one of the better devices for screen quality and even then (even when a site "does mobile"), the experience is unsatisfactory. (Google actually does a mobile presentation, but I actually would prefer it didn't -- the real estate and presentation is SO clamped down, I'd prefer panning the screen.)

    In my opinion, I don't think there is much to be done about creating a satisfactory, let alone a "great" experience for mobile devices. Their form factor is just too small -- there are far too many people who, even with high resolution, cannot use these to surf the net comfortably.

    If I were making decisions about a web site and whether to accommodate mobile devices my first instinct would be to ignore that niche. I wonder if there are any compelling counters to this experience?

  • Chicken and egg? (Score:3, Informative)

    by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:38PM (#14603246)
    More mobile users would visit if it were actually somewhat easy to visit. But companies won't make an attempt at a mobile site until there's enough volume. This is why technology gets adapted so damn slowly.
    • Catch 22.
      They won't get volume if their sites don't render correctly.

      I've experiemented with using CSS '@media handheld' on my sites but the sites I have aren't really geared for the mobile market.
  • by timmyf2371 (586051) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:41PM (#14603260)
    I would guess it's different for most people and how they use mobile browsing (if at all). Here's my take on it.

    I use a mobile device quite frequently to access the internet when travelling and aside from the applications such as IRC and other such utilities, I don't usually use the web browsing facility for anything *too* serious; I'll catch up on the latest news, look up the phone number for the nearest Pizza Hut and activities like that.

    If there's a website I want to purchase something from, or even find information out about a particular business, I'll stick the URL in my to-do list and check it out when I'm at a PC or laptop, allowing me to look into it in more depth.

  • ...advertisers figure out how to make pay-per-click text banner ads.

    The web has become so commercialized that it's not even the web anymore. It's just an advertisement forum.
  • In general, no, but who goes to your site? If it's young Japanese girls, then you better have one that will work on their phones. Are you processing orders from a sales force on their PDA's? Would be nice to get those orders in... I mean one look at your server logs should tell you how many people trying to use a mobile browser...
    • I mean one look at your server logs should tell you how many people trying to use a mobile browser...

      That will of course tend to undercount it quite a bit. How many people will even try, knowing from experience that commercial sites almost never work unless they specifically say so on their homepage?

      It reminds me of my (former) bank that stated they will never allow Mozilla since none of their customers use it - which they of course did not since they couldn't.

    • Of course there is a problem with this approach.
      A look at our logs of 2005 says that a whopping 0.03% of our visitors used Windows CE. Maybe I should check for some more signs of a mobile user, and get to the estimated 0.1% figure.

      But our website is not mobile-friendly. Those visitors probably were scared away pretty quickly. How can I know what would happen if the site indeed worked for them?
    • I am not sure that the server logs are going to help you, as said otherwise in this thread if you are not friendly to a mobile browser then you won't have the users.

      I think the better question would be, how valuable would your site be to people on the go that are not in front of a computer? If you have a mostly informational site then I wouldn't convert if possible. However if you have a service to find the nearest coffee shop, see stock prices in real-time, or bid on a auction then having your site mo
  • I recently got a Treo 650, and while Blazer can render most pages well, I mostly stick with sites that I know work well. Wikipedia (with the right skin), and Google are great. Other sites like IMDB work well, but are slow due to extra stuff that doesn't render well. If they had a mobile IMDB system, I'd use it all the time. (I'm horrible with actor names, and have to know where I recognize someone from)

    Actually for /., I just use the normal pages in "light" mode, which works out quite well. I don't get
    • You might try http://slashdot.org/palm [slashdot.org]

      I think /. did it right by this, works great for me. I will usually read it on my cell on my way to/from work. Grabs the top 5 comments of each story which is usually enough while on the go, or at least until you can get home and read it.
      • It appears I didn't make myself clear, my apologies.

        I read /. less for the articles and more for the comments. "Top 5" doesn't make it in my book. "Top 50" might have chance. But as mobile internet changes, so shouldn't the sites that provide service?

        I'm on my Treo all the time. ALL the time. Be it playing games, getting email, listening to music or watching movies. I have it out always. I want more! I'm greedy, I know.
  • It's commonly agreed that a mobile friendly website takes additional resources to create.

    Given the fact that most websites have problem asking money from traditional site visitors, I find it hard to believe any additional spending can be justified by most websites.

    Having said that, some niche websites, which either [1] are built primarily for mobile users (that is, mobile friendly website is in the initial budget) or [2] offer valuable content which mobile users are willing to pay for.
    • I'm a mobile user, and I pay for a mobile-usable website by doing business with the company. A company whose website shows up blank, or a company whose website tells me I need to download some other browser, is a company I sincerely hope will fail promptly and free up its employees and capital to someplace that will put them to better use.
      • The problem is, this argument applies to everyone. Some people insist on using strange browsers, or really old browsers. Should my website support those users? Supporting those users incurs a measurable cost; in fact, even supporting IE AND Firefox costs more than just supporting IE. That's a fact for any non-trivial website. Adding a third browser, or several others, like Konqueror, Safari, and Opera, costs yet more, even though these are all modern browsers that should support the same standards. An
        • What annoys me is sites which require javascript or flash support to do what could be done with "a href" - simple HTML links.

          Can anyone tell me why web designers do that? They don't know HTML?
          • There are many reasons why people use JS or Flash to accomplish things that can be done other ways. For one, maybe the underlying framework that powers the site makes it difficult to link certain things in certain ways. Or, perhaps the site operators want to make it difficult to deep-link (as mis-guided as this seems). Maybe they use Javascript to submit forms because they want to ensure that you have Javascript enabled; some web applications are designed to do the user-friendly validation on the browser
    • "It's commonly agreed that a mobile friendly website takes additional resources to create."

      Though you're correct, what's silly about that is that a lot of sites run off of databases etc. It shouldn't be that hard for sites like Slashdot or Engadget to support PDAs. (Not saying they don't, I wouldn't know, just using them as an example.) Simply write a simpler template that pulls the info out of and throws it on the screen. It was a lot harder back in the days of doing everything in HTML, but with all the
  • by licamell (778753) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:44PM (#14603273)
    You really can't expect a decent answer to your question without presenting the needs of the company better. Is this company's website just an information website about the company, or do they actually provide some sort of web-based business? And if the latter is the case, is it something that mobile users would even be interested in? These are the kinds of things you have to decide, not just if websites for mobile devices are good in general. (This is slashdot, so of course you'll get the hypothetical/philophical answers to this general debate - but it doesn't seem to be what you want).
  • If your content isn't all static HTML and is actually available in a way that can be manipulated, making a stripped down version for mobile users really shouldn't be that hard.

    As far as how many users would actually notice - I can't say. But since it shouldn't be a huge timesink, I don't see a reason not to.

    This of course depends on the type of site; Newegg.com, for example, probably shouldn't attempt a full mobile store, but displaying current sale items or maybe (a much reduced version of) your account pa
  • by aztektum (170569) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:46PM (#14603285)
    I work @ Sprint and a lot of our customers that look at our PDA devices have been asking the sales people "Will it work with my bank site?" There is a demand, I think, for certain businesses to offer mobile access to accounts to pay bills and all that. However does say Intel really have a reason for a "mobile" site? Would General Motors need one? But if you're a service provider (cable, utility), financial institution, or a Google or Yahoo, then catering to a mobile audience at least partially, could be a bonus.
    • So.. do you have any idea who at Sprint I'd complain to about how shitty the Nextel mobile locator website is? Who would I have to talk to to get it fixed so that it is actually useful? Working with non-IE browsers would be a start. Allowing polling through a stable API would be even better. At least it should have is a plain-text mode not requiring Javascript, a crazy system of redirects, etc so that I could use the damn site through a text-based browser. I hate to think what a blind user would experience
  • Just today I noticed a visitor with this browser string:

    Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)

    No idea what he/she will actually see. Our site does not even support MSIE 4 anymore. But MSIE 4 on CE may be different?

    We had 0.03% Windows CE visitors last year. I don't think I'll spend time on that.
    • My Dell Axim X51v is Windows Mobile 5.0 based with a VGA screen. It's output in my logs is as follows:

      Operating System: Microsoft WinCE
      Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)
      Javascript: version 1.2
      Monitor Resolution: 480 x 640
      Monitor Color Depth: 16 bits

      It would be nice if more people designed sites that worked on PDAs but, as other posters have commented, if my PDA has access then usually my ultra-portable laptop can too so I just use that.
    • Opera has a small screen mode which shows how the web site would look with their mobile browser. That doesn't tell you how it looks with windows CE, but Opera is the most popular mobile browser, and squishing it down does give a pretty good guess at how it looks on other devices.
      • Well, in "Small screen mode" in Opera it actually looks better than I expected. See http://www.uw.nl/ [www.uw.nl]
        It seems Opera partly follows the stylesheet, partly ignores it, in a way that makes the navigation still usable and the content readable.
        It amazes me because the site was never designed for this.
        I know that it does not work on MSIE 4 but I think MSIE version numbering is inconsistent across platforms (MSIE 5 on Mac is different from MSIE 5 on Windows, for example).
  • pretty simple... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Run4yourlives (716310)
    For most, simple CSS linked properly is good enough...

    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="handheld" href="/style/standard.css" />

    Be sure to hide all the big images as well.

    If you have a big audience on cells or pda's, you may want to optimize it a little more, doing things like putting a menu right at the top of the page, lot's of "back to tops", etc.

    Once again, you won't be doing any of this without standards.

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrumpetPower! (190615) <ben@trumpetpower.com> on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:57PM (#14603348) Homepage

    Anytime anybody asks these kinds of questions, it's just a vivid demonstration of how clueless said person is when it comes to just what this Intarweb thing is.

    Rather than beat you over the head with your misunderstandings, let me just skip to the chase.

    Design your sites in this order, and you'll never be concerned with these kinds of questions again.

    1. Design your site in valid XHTML / HTML 4.0 / whatever that looks good in lynx.
    2. Knock yourself out with CSS to make it look fantastic in your personal favorite choice of Firefox, Safari, Mozilla, Konqueror, etc.
    3. Add just enough <!--[if IE]>blah<[endif]--> statements to make it look good in all versions of IE that're still supported by Microsoft.
    4. If somebody points out handheld devices, screen readers, etc., that understand CSS but do a poor job of rendering the CSS you used on your site, create a custom stylesheet just for them.

    That's it. That's all there is to it. When you're done, you've got a Web site that looks great on all platforms and validates to all meaningful standards. And, if it weren't for Microsoft, you could reasonably forget the last two steps.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Almost exactly the comment I was going to post.

      The answer to "should businesses have mobile friendly websites" is MU!

      If the website is designed correctly, it will already be "mobile" friendly (as well as everything-else friendly).
    • Why is this not modded up to +5, Informative?

      I regularly try to browse using cellphones and stuff like my pocket Zaurus 6000SL. Some sites, like news.bbc.co.uk, work perfectly. Most others give a blank page or something about as useless.

      Dammit, it's not that hard!

    • From a designer point of view this is a very strange remark: I design my sites to have a certain width. I should be aiming for a 800*600 screen since there is still a high percentage out there that uses that size (not just old computers but far-sighted people like their screens at that size for instance), but sometimes I think forget it, I am doing a 1024*768 now (which results in a 900*500 or 950*550 page size).

      Try reading that on a palm.

      I used to have a Newton, so sometimes I think about how it woul
      • I design my sites to have a certain width

        That's your problem right there. It's a bit dumb to assume that users are running at any particular resolution (or that they always run their web browser full screen).

        If you drop this requirement your websites will scale to different devices much better.

        • In a nutshell that is the difference between designing and programming. I could program a site that does that, but as a designer I am an arrogant SOB and I want the visitor to see the site the way I intended it to. And you know what: I agree with myself :-)

          Scalable design is very hard, and not rewarding because the sacrifices you have to make are to big: both sites will probably look like crap. I would end up designing two sites - and looking at things like usability and purpose of the site that would pr
          • I'm not interested in such a solution because it is not worth it.

            Then you are a shitty web designer, and within 5 years will be out of a job, no matter how pretty you make things look.
            • eh?

              Just because I think content+desgin for big screen internet does not translate well to content+design for handheld internet by merely using a script??

              • Just because I think content+desgin for big screen internet does not translate well to content+design for handheld internet by merely using a script??

                No, because you don't seem to realize that designing a site with standardized HTML/XHTML and CSS has nothing to do with "scripts".

                "Designing" websites is a lot more that drawing pretty pictures.
        • Absolutely!

          yurigoul, repeat after me: THE WEB IS NOT A MAGAZINE. A web site is NOT about creating a pixel-for-pixel copy of your favourite design on someone else's screen, because you have no idea what their 'screen' is like, and they may have radically different design preferences from yours.

          If you want something like that, use PDF. Or use image files. But that's not a web site.

          Remember that my system may have a very different screen from yours. It might just have many more or fewer pixels; its r

          • Sorry, I am not going to repeat anything, because I learned all those lessons a long time ago and I never create anything like the sites you describe. But I do like to create sites that are as compatible and as light as possible and there is something to see (as in visual content). Therefor I will probably never design for text only systems. And please, don't asume I am running windows when I am not.
      • So you're one of those *****s (or a troll).

        Do you know nowadays there are tons of people using displays with different width screens? Even many notebooks have widescreens nowadays with high resolutions that would make 800x600 look weird or require users to tweak their displays and sizes.

        By the way, can you please explain why so many "web designers" like to use javascript for _links_, when they could just use normal HTML links? y'know <a href="....">link</a>
        • Why on earth should I be a troll? I just try to point out the difference between a designers/editor point of view and a programmers: it is not as easy as creating another routine in a script.

          Part of creating a website is drawing an area on my screen and start working within it. The other part is asking what should be done with the site. For a smaller screen both are different: smaller area, other purpose.

          I have a 17" imac, so my screen size is different, too. A site for 800*600 screen works as well he

          • Part of creating a website is drawing an area on my screen and start working within it.

            There's your problem right there. This is a print mentality, not a web one. As a designer, you should be designing sites that can "bend" into a variety of screen resolutions and platforms, becuase that is your canvas.

            But heck, I even like to use tables instead of div, just because I try to minimize the risk.

            The risk of what? Producing something of quality? Designing on the web has come a long way since 1997. If you don't
            • A large portion of the content served on the web is pixel based, as in images. So if you work with images you have think about where to set the minimum and maximum limits. And the rest of the design has to follow.
    • bang on, brother. design it right, and you'll also have something that disabled users can read and navigate successfully too. blind users with screenreaders can't use flash or crappily-designed webpages, for example.
    • Design your site in valid XHTML / HTML 4.0 .... create a custom stylesheet just for them.

      That is a myth. A mobile phone normally has a 1.5 inch screen of 80x100 or 100x150 pixels, capable of displaying 8-12 lines of 20-30 characters (i.e. 150 to 360 characters). With CSS you are not going to be able to make a normal webpage with 10 kB of text to be practical on such a small screen, simply because you need to scroll down 50 screens just to see the bare text and links. Apart from that, these users might be

  • by anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) on Monday January 30, 2006 @08:58PM (#14603354) Journal
    How about making the site accessible for screen readers to assist the disabled. If you look into it, you will find that It has a lot in common with mobile users... Nobody can remember 15 menu items when they hear them, and then navigate back to them. Nobody can understand pages when they are described if they are too complicated.

    You need to radically simplify presentation to make them comfortably usable by the bandwidth impaired, be it visual bandwidth in terms of vision, or using magnifiers, or using a PDA, or in terms of having the keep the structure in you head while listening to the page being
    described.

    If the company is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and employees are expected to access the site, then they are pretty much compelled to make it accessible. You can
    get PDA support for free riding on that.
  • After redesigning our entire site I set about writing parts of it to work with my pocket pc screen. While the Ipaq I use leaves a lot to be desired for it's inability to render CSS it does do a fairly decent job with page data. I took our front page article feeds and made them available in limited text only format as well as the major practice area's. This way a casual browser to our ppc site would see basically the same info on our main page on their pocket pc. Once I can find uses for it we will add m
  • Use CSS (Score:4, Informative)

    by StonedRat (837378) on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:03PM (#14603372) Homepage Journal

    If your site is written properly, i.e. using CSS for layout, then at the very least you can simply disable CSS for mobile visitors, not very pretty but doesn't block any content. The best option would be to have a style sheet with it's media set to handheld to tailor the content they see. Hide unnecessary stuff, and format the rest in a compact fashion:

    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="handheld" href="handheld.css" />

    Opera is useful for testing these styles (Shift+F11) and the Web developers toolbar [chrispederick.com] adds this feature to firefox. A very well made site compatible with handhelds is none other than opera.com [opera.com], everything on their site has a well optimised handheld version.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:05PM (#14603380) Homepage Journal
    The theory is, these devices are quite common, and more people would use them if more sites supported them. I like Google Mobile, I use a handful of other sites that are compatible, including Snapstream.net for Beyond TV (now that's a slick mobile site- it autodetects Windows CE and Pilot, and shrinks back to a subset that works wonderfully for finding a show you just heard about and scheduling it for recording to your home PC, which allows you to download it back to your device for later watching- completely cool closed loop).

    Now for best practices- go light on the graphics, better if you MUST have pictures should be a link to the picture, not an IMG tag. Text only. Few people have the newer Windows Mobile 5.0 devices with the hi-res screen- think 240 pixels wide. These devices are great for vertical scrolling, bad for side scrolling. Keep entry to links or single field with a submit button- javascript may not work well, and typing is a real pain on these devices. Same idea with pictures- think 240x240 or 240x320 at most.
  • 50% of my browsing is mobile with a Nokia 6600 and Opera 8.51. If a site doesn't work with that, I don't bother coming back with a desktop browser unless I really, really have to - like to print out an airline bording pass.

    It is not difficult.
  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by sulli (195030) * on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:09PM (#14603405) Journal
    Yes, they should
    make their web
    pages small enough
    for cellphone
    users to read.
    • Definitely - doing that forces you to limit the amount of actual text on your pages, so your Graphics Design Team has more room to put it in dancing animated Flash content to decorate it!
    • by Bazman (4849)
      Ys. Thy shld mk
      thr wb pgs sml enuf
      4 mobe usrs 2 rd!
      LOL!
  • Most sites are so bad they won't collect much data from pocketpc users anyway. Nobody will visit twice.

    First, browsers on PocketPC are horrific. My pocketpc has more ram available to it that most computers I used in the mid nineties, yet the browsers on them are horrible. (and I don't Just mean IE, although it's one of the worst).

    I think the questions you should be asking are: Is the website such that users may want access to the information on something like a pocketpc. Is it a subset of the information, j
  • by Etcetera (14711) * on Monday January 30, 2006 @09:10PM (#14603410) Homepage
    The only things I've found myself doing on my mobile device (a small, underpowered, but nifty, Samsung i500-ph through Sprint) consist of:

    * Reference lookups (ie, directions)
    * News updates (Drudge is surprisingly accessible, and many blogs work too); I tend to do this after receiving a "Breaking News" SMS message from one of my local TV stations (nbc739.com)
    * Sites that use interactivity

    To expound on the later, I run a couple of different "portal" type sites that allow me to log in, view profiles, and get information on other people. With that sort of customization available, we're creating mobile-friendly calendars, phone lists, photo galleries, and news updates, all to allow people to access things wirelessly and get "what they need."

    If your website is basically a brochure, then no, you probably don't need a mobile-friendly site per-se (although you do need to make it WAI-accessible for the disabled). If your site has something to do on it that someone might want to do when they are away from a terminal, then by all means start developing. As someone else said, it's almost a chicken-and-egg problem. But once people see that they can access your features more conveniently, I'd wager you'll see usage improve.

    • You hit the nail on the head. The OP is unfortunately asking a very broad question. It's like asking, "Do businesses need a website?" Depends on the business. Most could at least benefit. As far as mobile friendly websites, what's wrong with making a small, from-scratch HTML with just the basics? Contact info, directions, a news item or two. I would say people using mobile devices need access to information quickly. Graphics/etc shouldn't matter too much... for the time being.
  • by j1mmy (43634)
    unless you deliver a mobile application on your site or target a mobile market, there's really no reason to support such devices.
  • by Bob McCown (8411)
    How do I insure that my site will be compatible with mobiles? Is there a program that will emulate the various handhelds that I can use to tweak my site?
  • A smart business should design their site to degrade gracefully, so that if not a fancy layout with color matching and floating transparent backgrounds, someone can at least get the info they need/want.
  • I think the only time I've ever been able to tolerate a cell phone's Web browser (or a cell phone, for that matter) was during the summer when I used it to hack an MSN connection on my laptop [dyndns.org]. Long story short, it didn't really involve anything illegal, I just had to Google for a nameserver that would work. After that things were perfect, or at least as perfect as things can be on a dial-up connection... :-)

    Since then the most mobile Internet-accessible device I've put up with is my slightly newer Dell La
  • There are still some carriers that don't let you outside their "Walled Garden" so this just limits the potential market further and increases barriers to adoption.
  • they should ONLY IF there is a specific need. Like the company I work for (TDS Telecom) doesnt have (many) people accessing it from a PDA or mobile so there would be no need, just wait until you get home to your compy 386 or lappy 486. On the other hand, my little "company" would make use of something like that for server stats. I can design some wasteful bandwidth loathing website that lists all my stats or something small, quick, and to the point for my mobile or my pda. That could be useful. Yea, but c

  • <sneer accent="french">How naïve to imagine that software development is driven by market forces.</sneer>

  • I used to read Slashdot every morning for a while on the train on my phone/pda. It's not very mobile friendly. Logging in is a pain, and although with graphics off it is bearable, it's far from ideal. Worse, is all the extra garbage that stills comes down with the text. There is a real case for some sites to be mobile friendly, but designers seem to want to make it all far too pretty, when all I really want is convenience. But when you do use a site that is mobile friendly, it's a snap to operate - especi

  • The only things you need to do to cause your site to be accessible by mobile devices are things that you should be doing anyway.

    Don't assume anything about the client's display resolution, font size, inclination to display images, or willingness to use plugins, java, or javascript. Just write clean, correct html, and it will deal with diversity of client traits; that's one of the primary things that the language was designed to do.

    If you choose to layer other froofraw on your site (eg, javascript, flash, im
  • Here in the UK, mobile web browsing is (I believe!) starting to become a lot more popular. And it is NOT a matter of simply creating an extra CSS stylesheet for smaller browsers - ever heard of WML?

    Mobile internet has so much potential - the other day, on the train coming back from a meeting, I was able to watch decent quality (i.e. good audio and non-grainy pictures on a 2 or 3 inch screen) LIVE television. I can get over 300Kbps on my phone Internet connection and am able to do a lot of stuff a few year
  • That's the question, why would someone want to go to your site on thier phone? Does it fit a need? Is it useful to the 'on the go' crowd?

    Would I want to visit the site while I'm out with friends, while in another town, or waiting for a plane?

    That's it. If you feel your potential client would, then I would go for it, but if you are met with a bunch of hypothetical maybes, then maybe it's not worth it.

  • It was important enough to mention your client's boss wants a handheld-friendly website, but you neglect to mention what the website is all about. Context is everything.

    Are you providing technology/services that can be managed by a web browser? Or is this a shopping cart for buying rocking chairs?

    If you provide a web-based management interface for configuring customer services... something a technology consultant might actually NEED when equipped only with a handheld... then yes I can see the business case.
  • Is there a search engine that returns "PDA friendly" websites on the top of the results? If so, that would help. If not, why not?
  • The whole "users drive content"/"content drives users" (straw man) and "use CSS" (more in depth question) arguments aside, the larger question for me would be, is your site such in the marketplace that John Smith mobile user would come to it in his web browsing? If you're a company with something to offer John while he's driving down the freeway, maybe it's something you look into. If you're, say, a media development company, maybe John should go to his desktop, since a mobile version of your site wouldn'

  • Look I write my pages in xhtml/css so porting to a small screen/device isn't much trouble at all so it really comes down to if they are going to pay me for it. If they do that's great and I'll do it...Though when you add reality mobile web browsers aren't in common usage because end users find them to hard ... Hell they find MSIE on their desktops to hard. So I can honestly see things like the Nokia 770 being the only type of device that really takes off for mobile browsing and it uses full page code anyw
  • by akhomerun (893103)
    i don't think so. it only encourages cell phone companies to keep their slow data networks.

    but that isn't the primary reason for me. if my mobile device isn't capable of displaying full web pages (i.e. small laptop) then i see no point in a mobile device.

    the two things I want to do on the go are
    1. email/message
    2. use the internet

    of course, if you can do #1 (with java/javascript/dynamic pages/active content, etc) then you automatically can do #2

    which is why i have yet to own a pda or smartphone. i think
  • During the company re-branding last year I had to redo the website with new colours and images and layout and menus and everything. Since I used CSS obsessively it was reasonably easy to make a functional and relatively pretty website for mobiles as well. Just include a stylesheet of changes for media="handheld".

    No phone will show anything worthwhile decently, get a PDA and use that as your aim. Also some very long/wide pages will need to be redone for the small screen, can't be helped I'm afraid.

    Hope it
  • My issue with websites are their tendency to over rely on IE specific coding, or to actively put in blocking mechanisms that do the "you can't use this site with anything but IE 6.0" stuff. Obviously, these won't work at all on a mobile device, even a PPC, since that version is only listed as 4.0. One of my banks does this now, and it really pisses me off that I can no longer check from my Zodiac 2 palm. Personally I tend to look at companies that do this as lazy, since there is always a way to code things
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @09:52AM (#14606294) Homepage Journal
    I've often found myself resisting something that the boss wants because it not only fails to justify itself, it creates a long term maintenance burden.

    And figured out later that while I was right in my narrow analysis, in the broader analysis I was wrong.

    Sometimes solving a more general problem is easier than solving a specific problem. It's always more cost effective than solving an endless sequence of specific problems. If you keep an open mind, you often give the boss what he wants -- and more than he ever asked for. It seems to me that best web development practices would both help a great deal with this problem and with downstream maintenance. The reason we don't do the right thing most of the time is the pressure from management for quick results.

    So, in that case what you have here is an opportunity. The boss has something in your purview that he cares about. Depending on how you frame this problem, you either have a pointless exercise in satisfying a CEO whim, or you have a CEO who has stumbled on the importance of separating content and presentation. If you treat it like the former, you're committing to a permenant doubling of effort on everything you do so that it will look nice on the CEO's PDA. If you treat it like the latter, you can make the CEO happy while reducing your downstream maintenance costs.

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