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Web Design Hampers Mobile Internet?

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the yin-and-yang-of-the-net dept.

Handhelds 434

aws910 writes "Reuters is running an article on how flashy web design is impacting the usability of internet-enabled mobile devices, with quotes from Tim Berners-Lee. Although the article is sparse on details, it is an interesting topic for discussion. Having recently bought an internet-enabled cellphone, I can honestly say that most websites are painful to view on a 240x320 screen over a GPRS connection(EVDO is expensive/US-only). Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction?"

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I'm hungry (-1, Troll)

Terri Schiavo (870207) | more than 9 years ago | (#12025975)

I'm hungry and thirsty. Please help me.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026001)


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12025976)

Ah, wow. Cool. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12025984)

Design Hamsters? Haven't seen any since Hampsterdance.

is he still trying to sell semantic web (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12025987)

No, I didn't RTFA. Every time TBL speaks these days, seems like he is trying to sell semantic web. Get the message, no one freaking wants or needs the semantic web. move on please.

Re:is he still trying to sell semantic web (1)

lordsid (629982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026096)

seriously, why should the rest of us suffer because this guy bought a new gadget?

to answer your question... (2, Interesting)

TheLevelHeadedOne (700023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12025988)

Yes...but I don't think there's going to be a strong pull back....

Useless... (1, Insightful)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12025989)

IMO, broswing website using some silly little contraption is silly. Just view the sites on a regualr computer when it's more convenient. Or, every web designer should use CSS and have a handheld-friendly CSS option.

Re:Useless... (4, Insightful)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026058)

How about when you don't have one available? Waiting for a flight, sitting on the subway or whatever?

Re:Useless... (5, Insightful)

slashdevnull (220766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026154)

The do what the cavemen did while they were waiting for their flights - sit down and shut up.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to have a cellphone shoved into your ear, or a web browser in your face 24/7.

Re:Useless... (5, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026063)

IMO, broswing website using some silly little contraption is silly. Just view the sites on a regualr computer when it's more convenient. Or, every web designer should use CSS and have a handheld-friendly CSS option.

Or webdesigners can take the time to make websites that have slimmed down versions (text only Google News, Slashdot's lite (or completely customizable version, various sites that offer WAP detection).

I have a little utility that I wrote for geocachers to convert words to numbers via the "dollar word method". A guy I know complained that it wouldn't render on his WAP phone. I spent the 10 minutes using Google to figure out how to write it to work w/WAP and how to get Apache to detect WAP and rewrite the URLs.

Is it really that hard to do? Do we really need Flash and 100k page loads for a simple website?

No, we don't and it's not silly when you are sitting on the bus or train or in the mall waiting for your SO to shop.

Be serious.

Re:Useless... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026301)

The problem with alternate versions is cost. You're required to maintain a separate codebase for your slimmed down version, and you need to have enough potential earnings for that codebase for it to become feasible. Unless a considerable chunk of your clients for the regular version demand a trimmed down version or they will move to a competitor, there is no business case for supporting alternate platforms right now, due to low usage numbers.

Ofcourse, over time the use of the web on handheld platforms will become widespread enough for there to be a business case for supporting them, but as always, there is a case of chicken and egg.

Look at the history of CSS on the web. Tons of benefits, but as long as the vast majority wasn't using a CSS-supporting browser, there were few CSS-based sites, and most browser makers dragged their feet to implement a sprawling standard nobody used.

Also, I understand that there are a lot of slashdot users here who dismiss "flashy" websites, but make no mistake, flashiness is a feature that sells. Ofcourse, all flash and no function leaves you biting the dust. But if you have feature parity with your competitors and your competitors have a more attractive product, you will lose marketshare.

Re:Useless... (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026111)

My experience on the web with my cell phone (LG VX6000, I think - the model number isn't on it, but it's a popular camera phone Verizon offers) has been horrible. Pages that check out fine in the validators give useless error messages (so I don't even know what caused the problem), and pages longer than a couple screenfuls choke it.

There's a lot of potential, and I'd love to use it, but it's so bad I've taken to calling it the "Worthless Wireless Web". Presumably other phones work better than this.

Re:Useless... (-1, Redundant)

wheelgun (178700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026123)

I would have to agree. I can't plug in my 486 and fire up Doom III. That doesn't mean game development is hampering the use of computers as gaming platforms. It just means the hardware has some finite limitations that can't be overcome.

Re:Useless... (2, Informative)

kahei (466208) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026141)

You're right. Using silly little contraptions is just plain silly. Well argued.

Anyway, I note that in Japan lots of sites, even personal 'me and my dog' pages, have mobile versions. Not surprising since there have been a lot of web-capable phones there for a long time. It's just a matter of market forces -- maybe a big enough pool of people with browser-equipped phones will build up in the US, maybe not.

Re:Useless... (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026254)

Exactly. Let the market decide. If individuals and groups want their sites to be easily displayed on small devices, they'll do. More opportunities for developers, especially anyone developing an application that will make conversions easier.

Re:Useless... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026160)

umm.. Useless it is not. Usage of wireless web enabled devices is growing faster than the conventional delivery methods can handle.

As a full time web designer - I have made my services for developing websites for web enabled devices a high priority. With proper research and proper web design skills, developing websites for slow connections without Macromedia Flush is pretty straight forward.

What is really needed right now, especially for the Pocket PC platform (Which I feel is superior in every aspect compared to the kludge that is Palm OS)is Minimo development to progress at a faster rate. PPC IE browser is blech, and the only viable option for efficiency on the PPC platform right now is NetFront v3.1 for Pocket PC. Multimedia delivery via PPC Windows Media Player or Real Player is already in place and developing content for that format is pretty straight forward.

I only wish Qualcomm would get off its dead ass and develop Eudora for PPC instead of just Palm OS. I don't like the idea of using Outlook, but I will if it is necessary to do my work.

Re:Useless... (2, Interesting)

yog (19073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026175)

Well, there are times when there's no choice, such as when one is on the road or in a motel with no internet access or on site at a client's place of business where it's a security risk to touch their intranet terminals. Also, when at a factory, gas station, restaurant, rest stop on the highway... the list goes on and on. So, the suggestion of "just view the sites on a regualr [sic] computer" doesn't apply in every situation where one might need to access the world wide web.

I'm at the very low end of access speed; I've just started using my Palm T3 with a bluetooth phone to access web sites, with mixed results. To my surprise, the sites I have used (/., Y!News, Y!Quotes,, NE Journal of Medicine,, etc.) have been pretty "format-friendly" so far. it; the whole site's Flash.

I have found that by far the fastest way to browse is to ssh to my linux account and run lynx. This relieves the handheld of the responsibility to download tons of html formatting and graphics placeholders. Now if only this bluetooth phone-dialup ISP connection weren't so godawful slow it would be more useful. But, it's better than nothing.

Anyway, clearly there needs to be some more consciousness on the part of web site designers as to different screen sizes, but my experience has been not too bad.

Re:Useless... (4, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026265)

Of course, the opposite might just be true ... if you want more people to view your site, you might want to consider those who do not have ADSL, or are mobile, or live in a country where 800x600 is still considered hi-res.

Either way, you might want to consider that a good portion of potential viewers will go somewhere else if the word "Flash" appears in the first 30 seconds, or nothing at all appears in the first minute.(You can always have a link to the "Alternative, pointless, bandwidth intensive and painfully slow graphics version").

The Japanese succeeded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026276)

The Japanese succeeded in doing this several years ago.
If you go to a website with a computer then it downloads the HTML, if you go the same address via a handset, then it downloads the cHTML site (although it automatically downloads the HTML if the cHTML version isn't there).
cHTML is compressed HTML, better on bandwidth, and the web designers also design it for multi-sized mobile phones and PDAs.

The Japanese have been doing this for years - simple solution, easy to implement, very usable.

Re:Useless... (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026278)

As a web developer myself, I'm really annoyed when people e-mail me asking for a low graphics format for my page.

My front page is 83k of HTML, 10k of CSS, 20-50k of images, and, in one part, 140k of javascript.

Reformatting the page into some sort of flat format just so people with more money than I can view it on their cells is just not going to happen.

I may think about a RSS feed but if I do it's going to be pretty devoid of content, as I often make extensive use of images, big and small. Many articles have lines like "if you look at this graph here" or "as you can see in the picture."

Am I supposed to rewrite all my content to make it l33t friendly too?

How are web pages supposed to evolve if we keep having to make a dumb-downed version?

Market (4, Interesting)

turtled (845180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12025998)

Is there that big of a market for mobile internet to have sites double design, one for PCs, one for 320x240 mobile internet devices? I know very few people that use things like that. Usually to check weather and the sports scores.

Re:Market (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026178)

Well, there definitely isn't a big market if the sites are not available for it.

I use it mainly for news and sports results if I do use it, it's not like I pay my bills or post on Slashdot though.

Re:Market (1)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026180)

Is there that big of a market for mobile internet to have sites double design, one for PCs, one for 320x240 mobile internet devices?

This is a great opportunity really. A site that plays nice on a mobile device may have a market differentiator from other sites. If they considered the audience...

Suppose some enterprising person networked fast food restaurants in a major metro area and made it easy to browse menues and arrange delivery/pick-up.

A hookup site for nightclubs for people that are already out on the town.

Sports sight geared toward current stats on your PDA while you are at the game

Fishing story bragging site..."The Kings are at 95 feet just off Port Angelus...hitting on red and silver spoons"

A niche in mobile oriented site is wide open and would have a steady/captive audience which would be a good market base for some advertisers.

Page Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026000)

Flashy sites are OK. Not everyone uses a web enabled phone. But the site itself should provide less intensive stylesheets for alternate devices.

What's the problem? (4, Insightful)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026019)

Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction?"

I don't see this as really being a problem. People don't really browse the internet with handheld devices (phones, PDAs, etc) actually attempting to REPLACE their computer. People only want to be able to check their stocks or recent headlines. When the content you want to look at is just a dozen lines of text, a PDA is more than adequate. If you want to browse a page that is designed for 1600x1200 resolutions, chances are that the page ISN'T something you need to check right away, and can wait until you get to your computer.

Mobile Internet is way oversold (1)

ites (600337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026022)

Consider: the most popular and successful mobile technology is SMS. 160 characters of text.

Why? Because it is simple enough that people who cannot even use can use it.

SMS can be seen as the "command line interface" for mobile applications but even this basic model is not well exploited.

Mobile web is a luxury that will work only for those who run full operating systems on small devices, and it will work via WiFi, not any of the mobile phone (2G, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, whatever) networks.

Re:Mobile Internet is way oversold (0, Redundant)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026122)

Mobile web is a luxury that will work only for those who run full operating systems on small devices, and it will work via WiFi, not any of the mobile phone (2G, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, whatever) networks.

Excuse me [] ? No. It's very useful especially with a device that knows how to interact with sites that aren't specifically designed for it.

As I stated before I would hope that more webdesigners realize the need for customizable content and layout (google news, slashdot, etc) so that people who do use mobile devices can have fast load times and a pleasure using their sites.

It takes 10 minutes to change your site over to be WAP viewable and have Apache rewrite the URLs for you. If only people would take the time...

Re:Mobile Internet is way oversold (4, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026137)

Actually, the biggest reason SMS is so popular is cost. In most of Europe and Asia, the cost of a text message is a fraction of the per-minute charge for a voice call.

Re:Mobile Internet is way oversold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026156)

I've been using internet moble over two years now but I noticed only a few site actually cater to mobile crowd. I would better if they could design site for both. I'm beginning to start this as test to allow people view my work'd website via mobile and I want to view my system stats in the same way.

I wrote a portal (5, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026025)

I just wrote a text only portal to the information I need using Nokia's Python SDK for Symbian 60.

It screen scrapes the sites I'm interested in and just returns the stuff I *want* to know : local cinema showings, a few RSS feeds, my current bank balance - that sort of stuff

More work than most people will do but makes me happy :)

The SDK (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026296)

How does it work?
For scraping sites, does it rely on hard coding the location of the information? In other words, if the site is changed a little, does the information get scrambled?

My cellphone's internet access... (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026028)

Is strictly used for Googling 1) facts in dispute, and 2) addresses of places in New York City when I'm tired of winging it.

Those are about the only things it's useful for.

Maps? Ha! News? Not worth dealing with it. Stock quotes? Unless you are likely to make a trade, what's the need for quotes on the go?

Re:My cellphone's internet access... (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026176)

When I had my Internet enabled Nextel phone it was strictly used for cheating at trivia contests in the local bar.....

In all honesty... (4, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026031)

Web designers should have been worrying about 56k speeds all along. Not everybody happens to have broadband yet, and even if they do, why should you bleed it all away with huge flash files, etc. If you have to add splash and flash, perhaps your message isn't as good as it could be.

Re:In all honesty... (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026168)

Depends on what you are designing. I have several image galleries that take several minutes to load when viewing the page on the host machine. Longer of a lan connection and more time than I care to think about over 56k.

While I agree that you should program pages for 56k viewing, there are some applications where it is not practical. Oh, and those load times are using thumbnails and not the acutal images (there just happens to be a lot of images).

Re:In all honesty... (1)

Johnny Mercer (867935) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026308)

While I agree that you should program pages for 56k viewing, there are some applications where it is not practical. Oh, and those load times are using thumbnails and not the acutal images (there just happens to be a lot of images).
I agree. It'd be like totally impractical to divide them into several smaller pages, such as by type, subject or theme.

Think about it though.... (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026197)

How many businesses really want their web sites to market to people still using 56K? I mean, come on. Even on the road, how many people who need the Internet are going to stay somewhere that does not offer broadband service?

Forgive me for saying so, but in this day and age, if you dont have or use a broadband connection, just how many people are going to take you seriously on the Internet and want to market their services to you?

Please dont give me a million Grandma and Grampa stories about how they picked up some item on Ebay over their USRobotics piece of shit and were thrilled to do so, either. Broadband is super-cheap these days, and if you dont use it, why the hell should some one make their web site nice, sparce and ugly for you?

On the other hand, any web page larger than 60-80k is stupid on its face. No decent web designer would create pages larger than that, and if IE ever supports PNGs right, this argument is moot.

It's the truth (1)

HMA2000 (728266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026033)

I tried trolling my favorite messageboard (not slashdot) yesterday from the jon on my cellphone at work and I had a great deal of difficulty in posting an effective topic.

I think it is high time that America got it's priorities straight and focused more on bathroom/work/trolling technology.

Yeah, and (0, Troll)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026036)

mobile internet hampers web design. Its a two way street there. Its still annoying to put up with people who use 640x480 or 800x600 resolution on 19" monitors.

Re:Yeah, and (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026125)

I'd say that web design hampers the internet in general. Far too many sites are crufty and overloaded with script when all I want are my freaking movie listings or the like. Even with a decent pipe, such sites can run dl slow when under heavy load. Besides, sometimes I don't want to use my full screen, or my full pipe, just to view a website.

Hint: the biggest success story on the internet is Google. Notice Google's layout.

Re:Yeah, and (1)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026288)

Of course, of course, you're right. I was just trying to be funny by reversing the statement made in the article title. Appearently, I rubbed someone the wrong way. Sheesh.

Re:Yeah, and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026217)

if your design is dependant on screen size, please quit.

it should be resizable to any size and work.

Consumer need/desire should drive technology (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026048)

not the other way around. If enough consumers clamor for web-enabled mobile devices and sites that support them, then companies will create/modify their sites to accomodate the customers. This is Business 101 stuff.

Surprised? (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026052)

Having recently bought an internet-enabled cellphone, I can honestly say that most websites are painful to view on a 240x320 screen over a GPRS connection(EVDO is expensive/US-only).

Well, really, is anyone at all surprised that smaller screens and lower bandwidth is slower and chunkier?

I've tried using my cell to use the internet, and it took only a few moments to decide it was for emergency use only. Both because it's almost useless and that the providers want to gouge so much for it in the first place.

Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction?

We've been moving in that direction ever since more and more idiots have decided I can't see any of their site without flash or some equally annoying browser technology. Gearing for slower links with older technology has been on the decline since someone pointed out it should be done.

Simple solutions (5, Insightful)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026055)

I also just bought an internet-friendly cell phone (Treo 650), and I'm figuring out which sites want me to visit them while I'm on the run (Google and Southwest airlines, to name two off the top of my head) and those that don't (

Either produce a mobile-friendly version of your site - which shouln't be the end of the world, considering that most major sites these days are run by content management systems, or let the viewers go to your competitors. Automatic browser detection would be nice, but I can handle typing "mobile" or whatever instead of "www".

Re:Simple solutions (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026212)

Use Weather Underground Mobile [] then and vote w/your "feet".

IIRC one of the guys from WU has a hiptop (T-mobile sidekick) and even went so far as to create a rocking WU client for it (which I use daily).

Re:Simple solutions (1)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026309)

I am also a proud owner of a Treo. What blocked me from using the internet/GPRS function completely was not the lack of sites, but the costs involved with getting a site. In the Netherlands I pay 1cent per KB. That quickly adds up with the googlepicture of the day etc. After having used it for a day, I was up to 10 euros in usage costs. The pricing for mobile data is outrageous and if that doesn't change then I will never use mobile data services.

Tell that to the clients and PHBs (5, Insightful)

NardofDoom (821951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026061)

It's not (primarily) the web designers' fault that they use flashy designs. The people who get design contracts aren't the ones who use well-formed, W3C compliant XHTML that is functional even in text-based browsers. The people who get the contracts are the ones who have a 500KB Flash animation on every page and poorly coded Javascript rollovers because clients and PHBs see these things and go "Ooo! Shiny!"

So until businesses are punished for their lack of interoperability with mobile devices, this will always be the case.

And it's unlike they'll ever be punished because device manufacturers have the onus to interoperate with bad sites, not vice versa.

Try to /. on a palm. (2, Funny)

qualico (731143) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026065)

Let me save you the suspense.
It's painful.

Re:Try to /. on a palm. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026124)

>Let me save you the suspense. It's painful

So you're saying you get the identical experience, then?

Re:Try to /. on a palm. (1)

qualico (731143) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026225)


I'd mod that up if I could.

Re:Try to /. on a palm. (1)

CaptainFlyingToaster (265282) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026290)

Oddly enough, though, it's one of the few things that loads and views smoothly on my Sidekick II.

Not only that but: Flash-y web design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026074)

has been negatively affecting the usability web-sites for years.

bah. (2, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026080)

I can honestly say that most websites are painful to view on a 240x320 screen over a GPRS connection(EVDO is expensive/US-only). Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction?"

You might, but I sure won't. I don't want to try to compare various items I'm shopping for on such a tiny screen, etc. etc. I won't buy a device for browsing the web unless it can do at least VGA.

Why demand everyone in the internet re-write the content on all their sites because you are trying to use a bad device to view it? Should boat makers make all their boats tiny because you prefer bailing water with a thimble rather than a bucket? Use the right tool for the job, or don't complain when the wrong tool doesn't work as well as the right one.

This is why RSS is important (4, Insightful)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026085)

Pulling down all of these websites on a Palm or PocketPC is very painful - my Treo 650 would take *forever* to load image-heavy Engadget, for instance. RSS is the perfect solution for the handheld. It allows you to quickly get a list of topics (text only, which is perfect for small screens) and then only load those pieces that interest you.

RSS is nice on the desktop. RSS is invaluable on the handheld.

Now if only a decent method of synchronizing multiple RSS clients could be developed (Bloglines doesn't cut it).

Market or Technology? (5, Interesting)

Delilah Jones (852061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026087)

It seems plausible to think that the market forces will overpower (or otherwise direct) those of technology in this instance.

For example, do you think that Amazon will move to a simpler website design to accomodate relatively few mobile users? Or would they go to the trouble to create an alternate 'mobile-only' website?

The answer?

Yes, if the market demands for such a headache merit doing so.

Otherwise, I think the technology of mobile Internet will have to conform to the current market situation of flashy website designs.

Re:Market or Technology? (1)

ctaylor (160829) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026319)

Amazon has a mobile site:

I say good - gimme plain (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026094)

I can't believe a dozen comments have been posted all to the effect of "don't look at the net w/ handheld - flashy is good",

Well, flashy sucks on handhelds or on a real computer. I almost feel like I'm back on a modem when I visit some sites which feel the need to pull their flashy ads of some distant server and won't display squat till that happens. Or sites that are FLASH only - sure it's neat once ... maybe ... but how about just dishing up information?

It's Expensive. (2, Insightful)

one_i_blind (613513) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026097)

I love my mobile internet. Yes the pages are moderately small and not flashy but at 2cents per kilobyte I don't want to be loading 50K banners and messy overhead. Maybe Mobile internet would catch on more if providers priced realistically.

Here we go again, trying to make a cell phone a.. (4, Insightful)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026105)

Swiss Army knife.. I can see specialized sites, news, weather and, I suppose, sports scores, offering separate pages optimized for phones, but it's silly, IMO, to think that the majority of sites are going to do this. I'm certainly not planning on doing that with the sites I'm responsible for.

Once again it's the old concept that I want my cell phone to be.....(gasp) just a phone and a good one. I don't need it to be a digital camera, or a can opener.

Not only mobile devices (1)

atomico (162710) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026107)

Today, the low quality-but-cheaper-than-others Spanish ISP known by the stupid name of 'Jazztel' lost another potential customer thanks to its dreadful website: 100% flash! The only way to read its terms and conditions was to get the source of the little scrollable window, paste the text block in a blank document and print it... until I realized that I was the customer.

Their competition welcomed me with open arms.

If everyone would code to standards. (5, Insightful)

Madd0g11 (40609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026113)

If you stick to the standards you can easily make good looking sites that can scale any screen and browser.

Re:If everyone would code to standards. (1)

Lego-Lad (587117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026234)

Here's a question - I just glanced though the W3C site looking for info on mobile devices and how to treat them. By standards, I'm guessing you are talking about the stuff Feldman talks about in his book (which I just got today). So, do mobile devices respond the the web in the same way browsers do? And by using CSS, etc., these mobile devices will display the information presented correctly? My phone has text only, and honestly, I never use it.

Wow.... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026116)

Who would have thought that webpages designed for 800x640 screens would be hard to read on 240x320 screens?! That's simply shocking! I'm glad this story was posted because it certainly taught me something new!

Re:Wow.... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026173)

And yes, I have one of those very odd monitors capable of natively running at 800x640. Don't ask me where I got it, as I don't remember.

Bad Design Nothing Too New (2, Insightful)

bmac83 (869058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026117)

Making overly-complicated pages did not start with the popularization of broadband. Think back to when frames were popular. I can't imagine how some of the framesets I saw eight years ago would render on a cellular phone screen. Many web designers are more artists than programmers, and this means that sacrifices of code readability and simplicity will always be made for the sake of the next big thing in style. Increased bandwidth only makes this problem worse by adding embedded objects and image-heavy sites.

If... (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026119)

If you're on a mobile device and browsing the web for information the sites with the most valuable info will likely be mostly text (aside from ads). If you're on a mobile device and browsing for media entertainment you'll probably want something specifically targeted to your device's size.

The moral of the story is sites which want to provide pure information should be mostly text and should not be too strict in their formatting (i.e. let the browser decide a lot for you and use relative sizes). Those that want to provide multimedia need to target devices because their media will have a different experience on each type of device.

True .. sort of (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026131)

Whilst it might be true, let us not forget that the majority of internet browsers for PDA's and phones really do suck.

For example, PocketIE is shockingly terrible. It crashes on overly complex content and doesn't handle javascript. Netfront is better, standards-wise, but renders the text completely unreadable.

Palm's didn't, until recently, even come with a web-browser. I can't comment on how good it is because I've never tried it, but a friend of mine was reported as being "underwhelmed" by it.

In fact, the only decent browser I can think of is Opera for mobiles - and even that has only come out in the last couple of years and suffers from the odd navigational and rendering quirk.

So, yes, flash does cause major problems - but there are plenty of problems with sites that don't use flash that could be easily solved with a half-decent browser.

If you Build it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026133)

People can say that "nobody uses a cell phone to browse a website", but the reality is that because most sites are designed without thinking of cell phones, people don't want to browse.

Nobody wanted to browse the web back when it first started because you didn't have anything to look at, or because the stuff that was there wasn't worth it.

If more people design with PDAs and cell phones in mind, more users of those devices will use them.

Not me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026139)

"Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction?"

You are pulled only where you let yourself be pulled. Gadgets and technologies (good or bad) fail because consumer forces refute them. Therefore, people who must always have the latest gadget regardless of its applicability, perhaps even you, are the source of your consternation. Consumers are sheep because they behave like sheep, and thus are treated so.

RSS (1)

DeVryGuy23 (869999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026144)

Wouldnt the optimal solution be to use RSS technology to just get the content you are looking for instead of trying to view the whole web site? What is gained by viewing all the graphics on a mobile device?

The Mobile Device Will Have To Catch Up. (1)

pablonhd (797579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026148)

Why roll back existing web content when the mobile device market is making leaps and bounds.

Screen resolution is only going to get better.
Connection speed will only get better.

opera browser (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026149)

It's not an insurmountible problem. I have a Windows smartphone (yeah, yeah) with a beta of the Opera browser which supports their caching proxy - not only does this reduce my gprs bill by cutting graphics down, but it also removes elements I can't display and reformats the rest for my device. Works a treat. I'm investigating something home-grown for the proxy end of things, but all the solutions I can find are geared to low bandwidth PCs, not the more limited smartphone devices.

Re:opera browser (1)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026307)

I have a Windows smartphone (yeah, yeah) with a beta of the[...]
There is something wrong in your sentence. You wrote "Windows" and "smart" in the same sentence. Must be a typo error.

Cry me a river (1)

jmc (4639) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026152)

Oh great, just when I thought I could stop designing for 640x480. :)

Seriously though, complaining about web sites that are too wide for your 320x240 screen is a bit like complaining about parking spots that are too small for your Winnebago.

I've done plenty of browsing on my phone or PDA. I just take it as a given that most sites are going to look like complete crap and it has never crossed my mind to blame the web site. You just find a few usable sites that you might need when you're away from your computer, and stick to those.

However, it would be nice to serve up a seperate version of your site to those browsing on smalls screens (perhaps just swapping the CSS). I've never looked into it, but I assume you can probably figure it out by looking at the user agent or platform. Anyone have any experience with this they can share?

adapting designs for mobile communities (1)

Slowping (63788) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026165)

Yes, I'm whoring, but...

How about having mobile communities do collective adaptation? Sure it might be painful at first when the community is small, but then things gain momentum and flourish. 04 a/

No, I am not one of the authors.

We don't need no stinkin mobile access... (1)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026167)

Call me old fashioned but...back in my day we accessed the internet by sitting at our PC's and opening Firefox.

Wrong place for the blame (1)

pojo (526049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026169)

Don't blame the fact that people aren't using their cell phones for Internet access on the web pages. Blame it on the design of the standards.

I'm a web designer who uses XHTML and CSS, but the truth is that if you are on a cell phone you will not want to download any of my pages. Currently the thinking is, "let's make our pages cell phone friendly", by separating presentation from content, but that's not enough. Cell phone users usually want to access some key feature of your website - not actually browse the web. Even with full XHTML and CSS separation, pages are still huge. What we need is a common, widely accepted standard of how to create a cell-friendly sub site without having to recode everything.

Even if the speed and availability problems were fixed (data via cell is still very slow in the US), think of how much it would mean to download IMDB [] 's homepage to look up an actor. No matter how perfectly you fit today's standards, there's just no way to reasonably display that on a cell phone's screen.

CSS (1)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026191)

The problem is easily solved with style sheets. I have a 3G Nokia, and find browsing the web when on public transport a very good use of my time - but I only frequent those pages (or aggregators) that take into account my viewing dimensions (despite OperaS60). Reading blogs, for example, should be completely painless, since it's mostly text content, but frequently it's a terribly pain. These devices clearly identify themselves via their browser, so websites should apply different style sheets when browser = OperaS60 or whatever. As for 56k modem design, my 3G connection frequently beats my old dial-up, so I don't think that bandwidth is the problem, rather resolution.

56k modem? (2, Interesting)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026193)

It's not about bandwidth, it's about usability.

The permeation of flash-based advertising, unnecessarily-bloated UI design, and lack of consideration towards lower-resolution displays have put a damper on mobile web access.

I know it's at the point where I've recently canceled my unlimited data access on my Sony Ericsson S710a. Why? There just isn't anything to do with it. ...and that may be my one gripe with this article. It seems to be blaming web designers for the lack of functionality on mobile web access. While I think that may, in part, be true, that most mobile devices have low-resolution displays, very little processing power, and less-than-efficient interfaces, operating on overpriced, under-performing data networks is a much larger barrier for the use of mobile web access than just web design.

Mobile web, right now, is basically about IM, sports scores, news, and very limited email and document handling, and that is the fault of the devices themselves, not web designers.

2 1/2 words: Standards-based design (2, Informative)

condour75 (452029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026198)

If you're using best practices -- stylesheets, semantic markup, alternative stylesheets where necessary, it shouldn't be a huge problem to have your site display well on a mobile device.

The one exception is that some of the more ambitious effects on sites like may be garbled on a reader that attempts to interpret css rules.

I'd also be concerned with the oncoming popularity of ajax effects on sites.

Makers of mobile browsers shouldn't be let off the hook either though -- each mobile browser should have an easily accessible stylesheet toggle so that the site information can be seen in lynxlike clarity if necessary.

Multiple Devices Require Multiple Standards (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026200)

It's no suprise to me (a web developer of 6 years) that the "internet" is going to begin splitting into subsets of standards. We already have several which make up the internet: HTTP, SMTP, FTP, etc. You simply cannot create a "standard" which meets the requirements for dramatically different applications. (That's why WAP was invented).

50 years ago it was inconceivable that the television would need to have multiple channels, let alone the hundreds that are available on basic cable today. After all, most cities only had one broadcasting station!

In the same way, the WWW will begin "splitting" as it were, in order to satisfy different needs with different solutions...

...and yes... my crystal ball is W3C compliant...

been tried before (1)

yagu (721525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026201)

I owned a cell phone capable of web 7 years ago, I believe it was called a Duetto, or something like that. Of course there were very limited sites available, but at the time there was (don't know if it exists anymore) an effort to write for handheld devices with something called HDML. The phone's display was character based, and the surfing was painfully slow, painfully limited, and not worth any money paid for the service subscription.

It kind of became (and today becomes) the chicken and the egg.... which comes first? Enough users to make the extra design and coding worthwhile (especially retro-fitting existing web sites)?, or enough web sites small-device-ready to entice a reasonable demographic?

My personal feelings are web experience on tiny devices is abysmal.... can't imagine there's really any pent up demand nor any huge future demand for something like this. (I actually am a bit from the old school of really liking a phone to be a phone, a camera to be a camera, etc.)

Same problem in reverse (5, Insightful)

Jhan (542783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026209)

<horse type="hobby">

The WWW is also useless on a real PC if you actually try to use the resolutions the PC is capable of. For instance my current PC/monitor combination can handle 2048x1536 resolution.

I tried that just the other day, and >90% of sites were just unusable, even if you increase the font size.

Then again, >90% is way better than the OS (MacOSX) and my actual applications which was 100% unusable...

Apple is just sitting on this revolutionary resolution independent windowing system, and they just won't let me use it as intended.

For gods sake, I just want 300 dpi monitor resolution, is that too much to as for? Especially from the company that popularized WYSIWYG?


Mobile Phones are the problem (1)

twistedfuck (166668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026218)

Flashy web design isn't the problem, mobile phones are just too small for accessing information designed to fit much larger screens. That's why WML and WAP came about, to find another way to present the same information to smaller devices.

Stop trying to cram more shit on a phone and just go buy an utlra-portable laptop if you really want to access the web all the time.

mode. or /pda (2, Informative)

ThumperByTrade (653117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026219)

I've had a Treo 600 for a year and half, and have built a library of PDA friendly sites. Most of the big sites offer an alternative view through either a mobile. prefix on the domain or a /pda suffix to the main site.
Here are my most used sites from my phone: [] [] [] []

Earth to Slashdot: Not Everybody is Just Like You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12026229)

Reality check:

Not everybody on the Internet is male ages 18-30 anymore. A growing population of InterWeb users are in their 50's and 60's, and don't have the unabused eyes of the young.

They can barely read their own email in 800x600 mode on a 19" monitor. Trust me, I work with them, and they don their 1/2" thick glasses, crank down the resolution, bitch constantly that they need bigger monitors, and they still can't tell who their email is from.

And when some clever web designer replaces text with images, so that the font settings in the browser that crank every font up to 20pt don't work, they get cranky.

This is the Slashdot Syndrome in full effect.

For those who do not know, the Slash Snydrome is the mistaken impression that Slashdot posters have, en masse, that all of sociey is essentially just like them, only dumber.

I can afford a 19" monitor. They're only a hundred bucks. Everybody can. I can read sites fine in 1600x1200 mode. Everybody can. I don't illegally steal music. Nobody does. It's a myth perpetuated by greedy evil Republicans and their coprorate lackeys. I know how to program, therefor everybody should be legally required to learn C and one scripting langauge before they're allowed to so much as check their email. I breezed through school, therefor it's not hard (people who don't get it are just stupid). I don't need a gun, ergo, nobody else does. I don't need an SUV, ergo, nobody else does. I like Linux; ergo, everybody else should (if they weren't so dumb, they'd know this).

Only I see the world crumbling around us, and I fight and struggle valiently, romanticizing myself as the lone soldier fighting a hopeless war against an overwhelming oppressive evil empire of corporations and politicians. I talk about it on Slashdot so everybody knows. If only the rest of society wasn't so dumb....

Definition of Design (1)

gitana (756955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026237)

The error here is assuming that "Design" means flashy.

A good designer will know that design is first a tool to aid the presentation of information.

Those interested in the current discussions going on in the web design sphere about accessible design should check this out: []

True "artistry" in design comes from, and coexists with function.

Hey, here's a clue for you. (0, Flamebait)

deacon (40533) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026248)

It hampers everyones web experience. We use the web for education or entertainment.

If we look for educational (informational) material, artsy-fartsy page design gets in the way. It increased the download time of the page. It never qualifies as "Art". If page layouts are not idiotic, they are tediously, pretensiously, BORING! Worst: Flash intros with no non-flash skip button. Sheesh!

If we look for entertainment material, REPEATING THE SAME FLASH INTRO AND MOVING MENUS every time we visit the site is NOT ENTERTAINMENT. Wacka-Chicka 70's porn music is not amusing 35 years later.

Hell, even when we look for porn, we want the porn. We did not go to a web page in search of stupid icons and animated (non-porn) gifs.

And speaking of porn (did I mention porn?), what is with all those shaved twats? It makes the model look 11 years old.


Not to mention the prolifiration of porn shots that have all the allure of a gyneological or animal husbandry textbook, but that's a rant for another time and place.


For those who remember my objection to Jacksons whitherd tit at the superbowl now calling me a hypocrite about porn, I will spell out the difference for you:

I have no objection to people searching out, viewing, consuming, etc. porn, (animal, vegetable, or mineral) as long as it does not involve underage children.

I do object to porn being thrown in the faces of people who were not looking for and did not expect to see it. That's just plain rude.

Have some cheese with that whine (2, Insightful)

marcusss (712815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026255)

Seriously, when will people stop finding sh*t to complain about? Do you really need to view the webernet on your cellphone ? gimme a break.

Pushing mobile internet further ahead (1)

dotKAMbot (444069) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026257)

In reality this drives moble devices to have better screens and faster connections.

My treo650 (320x320) on sprint works out very well for what I need to do with it (network monitor pages, news, weather, wikis, following email links).

It would be silly to take current design backwards for the short term while PDAs and phones catch up.


Java is the anwser (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026280)

Reuters is running an article on how flashy web design is impacting the usability of internet-enabled mobile devices... Have we moved away from 56K-modem-oriented design, only to be pulled back in that direction

This is why websites should use Java applets. It is more universal, it does not require downloading the flash player or shockwave. And more phones have built in support for Java.

I have always been anti-Flash and anti-PDF because they require jumping through hoops to get it to work. Not only do you have to instal it, often not even getting the exe file but rather having it instal over the net, but then when you go to some website like espn, they blow up the whole page filled with flash and all sorts of crap. Sometimes all I want is the news, not big ADVERTISING in flash that I can't control or get rid of. So what I do is, I just don't use those websites anymore. And I keep flash off my computer.

Java is the anwser. Applets can do everything Flash can do, and better. Plus, applets give the end user some control to disable them, to not play them.

A question of priorities (1)

popo (107611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026283)

I love the fact that the "mobile internet" (whose usefulness, necessity and popularity should be seriously questioned) is discussed with this air of 'manifest destiny'.

How dare these silly "flashy designs" hamper the true calling of postage-stamp-sized browsing!!!

If the tables were turned, I imagine design & branding advocates would charge the "mobile internet" with hampering the true calling of world-class design, branding and online entertainment.

As a designer I agree that standards are of course important. But standards which require conformity on cellphone screens? Hah! No really, you're kidding right?

Everything happening in design right now suggests even greater convergence with video, audio, applications, etc. (You know, all the stuff Mr. Berners-Lee dismisses as "flashy")

Browsing on a PDA (1)

chman (746363) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026291)

I've been using a Loox 720 for a few months now, and the VGA resolution screen allows many sites to be viewed well in their full versions. Okay, so the full PDAs are on their way out to be replaced by smartphones, but there's only a minor difference between the two platforms - even more so when they may both run Windows Mobile.
Despite the increase in resoltion, though, pages do still need to be actively developed for mobile devices, whereas currently they seem to be byproducts of whatever news update script the site uses. Slashdot's own [] could do with some work.
The BBC News Low Graphics site [] is the best example of a site designed for mobile devices. No fancy tables, small images, unobtrusive text-only menu. It renders beautifully on my PDA.
The other problem in all of this is that there's just no good way of serving adverts to mobile devices. With such a limited amount of space, using up large chunks of it for anything other than content would just irritate the user, as would using up their metered bandwidth to download large ad graphics.

succinct? (5, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026293)

the topic is
sparse on det-
ails because
it needs to
fit into a mo-
bile phone

I never moved away from that design scheme (2, Insightful)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026306)

...I can't stand flashy websites that require plugins and bandwidth eating graphics to function. I have always made the effort to code only standards compliant, low bandwidth eating fast loading sites.

The company I work for has a large field contingent with often low bandwidth connections back to corporate so such design behavior is a must. If it can't be done with XHTML1.0/1.1, CSS1/2, and a little javascript (note a LITTLE javascript) than the design needs to be rethought.

Web designers hamper INTERNET (2, Insightful)

cvdwl (642180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12026318)

The hell with the mobile internet, how about just the plain old internet? Proprietary file formats, splashy unreadable graphics, text as graphics, lousy design, etc. You know who you are!

If the regular internet paid more attention to bandwidth and standards, the mobile web would probably work just fine.

If a single page requires several hundred K and several plugins only available for a Commodore 64, you know who you are!

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