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Old 09-16-2010, 10:46 AM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
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Default Mobile versions of sites ... when are they appropriate?

I've really come to appreciate the companies whose web sites detect that I'm on a mobile phone browser. In fact sometimes I'll use the mobile version of the site on the desktop, simply because as a rule it's blazing fast and pared down to just the stuff I need to accomplish the task at hand. Lots to be said for that.

I've toyed with the idea of a mobile version of one or more of my own sites (if only via a mobile version of the css). I wonder if there's any reasonable case to be made for the effort though. One site is a huge FAQ about PowerPoint.

If you've run into a PPT question, it's almost a sure thing that you're using PowerPoint. That means you're at a computer, not a mobile phone. Granted, you may not have internet access on the PC, but for the most part, I'd expect most of our visitors to be on a PC, so they'd have no real need of a mobile version of the site.

[Reminds self to have a look at the logs to see if we're getting traffic from a substantial number of mobile browsers. If so, there's the answer. Cater to 'em.]

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 12:18 PM   #2
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[Reminds self to have a look at the logs to see if we're getting traffic from a substantial number of mobile browsers. If so, there's the answer. Cater to 'em.]
That sounds like the right idea.

At first I was thinking no one interested in PowerPoint would be reading up on it via handheld, but then I wondered if someone might want to figure something out on the train or in a conversation away from the computer.

Checking your logs seems like the way to go.

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 12:30 PM   #3
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That sounds like the right idea.

At first I was thinking no one interested in PowerPoint would be reading up on it via handheld, but then I wondered if someone might want to figure something out on the train or in a conversation away from the computer.

Checking your logs seems like the way to go.
Yep, I often search for info on my phone about things I can't actually do on it. I like having the option to use the mobile or full version of a site.

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:24 PM   #4
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I had a look at the logs and realized I had no idea what I was looking *for*. Blackberry's browser identifies itself with "Blackberry" somewhere in the user agent string, I found. But there weren't any of those.

In any case, as it turns out, it's a simple enough thing to make substantial improvements for at least some phone browsers. You can link to an alternate CSS file for handheld devices and (taking the lazy way out for the first pass) make all the unnecessary div styles hidden and 0 height.

Problem is, some browsers are halfwitted. Even though they're on handheld devices and you promise them a better handheld experience via CSS, they ignore you and serve up the standard page. Illegibly small.

Opera Mini on my Crackberry works as expected. The browser supplied with the phone doesn't. Seems to be a known problem with it.

IAC, for those browsers that won't/can't use it, the situation is no better or worse than before. For those that can, BIG improvement, minimal investment on my part. Took me longer to figure out why it wasn't working on the phone browser than it took to make it work on Opera. ;-)

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:26 PM   #5
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Well, I'm not going to do a full mobile version of the site (though honestly it wouldn't be all THAT much extra work). Just a mobile adaptible version. First cut's at:

http://www.pptfaq.com/

(Just the main page ... I'll probably work on the others tonight)

Compare view from desktop browser and from phone. (Unless you have a Blackberry, IWC don't bother. Stupid browser.)

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:20 PM   #6
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Opera Mini on my Crackberry works as expected. The browser supplied with the phone doesn't. Seems to be a known problem with it.
Another good thing about Opera Mini is that all the compression and such happens over at Operas servers, which reduces the amount of data used at your end.

As you noticed, not all handheld devices identifies themselves as such, which is a pain.

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:04 PM   #7
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I've just gotten the CSS sorted out for a first pass at Mobile Happiness. I figure if I get any complaints, I'll give them a link to Opera Mobile. ;-)

Thanks again for that link, by the way. Another couple hours of my life gone, but at least this time it's profitably. <g>

   
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:10 PM   #8
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I guess the Droid has a stupid browser also. I don't see a difference. (?)

   
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Old 09-17-2010, 02:27 AM   #9
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At first I was thinking no one interested in PowerPoint would be reading up on it via handheld,
Well, it's now possible to get a version of Powerpoint for the iPhone as well as other mobile devices.

   
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Old 09-17-2010, 06:41 AM   #10
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Bummer. There's a site you can use to test whether your browser's recognizing and using CSS targeted at handheld media:

http://htmldog.com/test/handheld.html

   
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