Monday, April 25, 2005

Designing for small screens-a little linklist

Recently, wireless bandwith got cheaper and cheaper. 50k costed 9.99$ on the service-it now costs me 50 cents on my T-Mobile contract.
Wireless internet is starting to become a reality-but the screens still didn't really get bigger. So, designing for small screens is slowly but surely starting to become a necceccity for everyone who wants to have his web site viewed on mobile devices.
Indeed, creating a web site for mobile devices is quite different from main-stream web design. You cannot use all the technologies that you love on a PC-there is no real flash support, little storage and usually no Java VM.

Loads of problems. But TamsPalm has a solution:there is a nice web page that contains a huge load of information. Find it here:
What are your experiences?


Blogger Jonathan Hays said...

Hi Tam,
Providing different html based on the browser's user agent string is (IMHO) the better way to go. Mobile browsing is mostly about trying to find out info (i.e. check movie times, read news articles, etc.) So, any site that is data driven (like a blog) can make the transition fairly easily.
For what it's worth, I wrote about this from a technical perspective earlier here:

and here:

As always, though, YMMV...

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jonathan: the problem with user agent strings is, that they may differ from browser version to version and many browsers do not identify as themselves (e.g Netfront identifies as Mozilla 4.08). So handle UA with care (I am surfing with Opera, but my UA says I am using Internet Explorer for compatibility and comfortability reasons)

1:05 PM  
Blogger intellidryad said...

Doing a site dedicated for mobile gadgets is a good idea, but a link back to the normal version is always need.
For example, Google mobile, is only text only(even the search results), and google automaticaly redirects Netfront to it. In my opinion, the original Google is simple enough for Netfront, and google mobile is sort of crippled(with all images other then the google logo striped out). And somehow, the link to "normal google" is missing when you use netfront, which is quite annoying.

Also, with palmOne, they redirect Netfront to a mobile site, which also lacks part of the info the original site provides. There is a link back to "desktop version", but everytime you tap that link, "desktop version" redirects Netfront to the mobile site(I guess it's a bug).

Not everyone feels comfortable with the mobile version (when Netfront renders websites nicely), so a choice to go back is essential.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Hays said...

Anonymous: I realize that agent strings lie; that's most of what my blog posts on my site detail. However, I have yet to find one that didn't report in some small fashion the fact that it was a mobile device. It's just a matter of interpreting the string. I just do a substring search on the user agent string based on a table that I have built up over time. If you check out my two posts, you'll see how I do it.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Hays said...

intellidryad: I disagree that you always need a link back to the normal version. Why? If the relevant portions of your site are data driven, then why not just strip out the parts that make it look "pretty"? Why would you need to see the "full" site? Now, if the mobile version of the site cuts out part of the data, then that is a problem with the site. I think that's the crux of the issue is that people/companies don't invest the effort in creating a good, maintainable mobile web site.

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