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  • Hello you. I'm a 38-year old MSc student, studying Advanced Computer Science at Sussex University. I'm especially interested in Internet and mobile software, sensors and pervasive computing, user interfaces, and the process of developing great software.

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« Taliban rise again | Main | Status meetings and postmortems »

September 16, 2006


Jo Rabin

I suppose that I am a pragmatic One-Webber - if that doesn't sound too much like a barbeque. The test is, if I am on a desktop and you are on a phone (sorry, mobile device) do you get something even remotely sensible when you follow a link I send you? I think that this is something that is important to get right.

There's a somewhat more wordy description of this at [1].


Tom Hume


I can see how this should work (and can see its value) for purely informational resources, but what about more application-like web sites?

Imagine, for instance, a hypothetical purchase process. On the fixed web you have 5 stages, each with a nice well-defined URL:

1. Save items into basket
2. Review basket
3. Choose gift wrapping options
4. Enter payment options
5. Confirm

...whilst on mobile you have a purchase process with reduced complexity, reflecting the typical context of mobile use:

1. Save items into basket
2. Review basket
3. Confirm with default payment options

What should happen if I take the URL for step 3 on the desktop and use on a mobile device? Should all mobile resources duplicate the function of desktop services just in case they end up being used in order to fit in with the One Web vision? Or is there an acceptance that there are some things - no, let's be more pedantic, that there is *at least 1* thing in the world of online content - that makes no sense to be accessed via a mobile browser?

Jo Rabin


Sure - your example about the shopping experience is a good illustration. Another one would be where a purely informational resource has different pagination according to the demands of different device types. So if I try to retrieve a page that is inappropriate to my device, my transactional status, etc. I do expect to be taken to somewhere reasonable - where reasonable needs to be interpreted according to the demands of the application in question.

As to the question "is there an acceptance ... that there is at least one ..." - sorry to keep nagging on about that reference [1], but yes, I believe that as far as Mobile Web Best Practices are concerned there is very definite acceptance that some things are more appropriate to the desktop (e.g. War and Peace in Parallel Russian and English Translation) and some that are more appropriate to a mobile usage context (e.g. location based services).

The key point here is that users should not be excluded because of assumptions about different classes of device. In my War and Peace application, I might spot you accessing it form a mobile phone, and say "I am really sorry but I don't have a presentation of this service that is likely to provide you with a 'functional user experience'". Crucially, I then go on to say - "However, if you insist then please go ahead."

This point is coming up increasingly in the context of 'Quart in a Pint Pot' browsers. It's frustrating for people using this kind of technology to be presented with sites that tell them to go away because they are using a mobile device. They will say that they have made the choice to do an activity usually associated with a desktop context using a device that is usually considered to be more appropriate the a mobile context. However, that is _their_ choice.

So the answer to your point is, I think, "no sense" is too strong. It's accepted that there are plenty of applications that would not usually make sense, however, don't take the user's choice away.


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