W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-bpwg@w3.org > July 2005

Re: Best Practices document - not best practices

From: Barbara Ballard <barbara@littlespringsdesign.com>
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 09:11:47 -0500
Message-Id: <58A914B4-AC44-4AD9-BDEC-9576F56CD18B@littlespringsdesign.com>
Cc: public-bpwg@w3.org
To: Daniel Barclay <daniel@fgm.com>

>> Could I ask how we tell the difference between "mobile web" and  
>> "regular
>> web" ?
> If you ask Barbara.  :-)

The mobile web is a web site or application accessed from a mobile  
device.  The regular web is a web site or application accessed from a  
desktop (or laptop, or tablet) computer.

Of course, user needs are different when accessing the web using a  
mobile device.

If I am developing a web site or other application on some flavor of  
computer, I may need information available on a web site, such as  
Nokia's or Openwave's developer web site.  I can guarantee you that I  
will not access this information-rich website when my computer and  
internet connection are right there.  I further will not be  
developing a website from my mobile device, at least not until my  
mobile device looks like a computer.  Thus, a developer web site is a  
"regular" web site.

(I had missed the point that Openwave's document does not, itself,  
follow best practices for desktop web design.  I'm always delighted  
when a web site is easy to use and follows good practices, but the  
vast majority of commercial sites don't come close to good design.   
It doesn't surprise me that the Openwave site does not have good  
design, and I can't blame the document authors for that failure as  
they probably had no way to influence the design).

Mobile web users are more likely to be doing something else while  
using the web.  The waiter may come to take their order.  Somebody  
may talk to them.  Thus mobile sites and browsers should be designed  
to accommodate high distractibility.

Mobile web users are likely to get interrupted by the device itself,  
with an incoming phone call and then the need for any number of other  
things.  Some devices do not return the user to where they last where  
when using the browser.  Thus mobile sites should carefully store  
interim user information and, where possible, allow for a much longer  
session timeout.

Mobile web users have devices with a number of limitations, including  
single-page and other stuff.  This group is pretty much expert here,  
so I won't discuss this.

Mobile web users also have devices with a number of enhancements over  
desktop devices.  Location, the ability to make voice calls and allow  
for a multi-modal design, and cameras are a few.  I haven't seen much  
discussion about taking advantage of these enhancements to make more  
powerful web applications.

Mobile web users are more likely to be searching for particular  
information.  Regular users are more likely to be doing a less- 
specific search, or even browsing.

There are more distinctions, but this gives you a flavor of them.

My core argument is that mobile users are not like desktop users.   
Further, mobile devices are, and should be due to user needs,  
different from desktop devices.  Trying to make them the same will  
limit both populations.  This, of course, puts web designers in the  
difficult position of deciding whether a particular web site's  
content, navigation, and features will sufficiently meet both  
population's needs with some user agent magic, or whether two sites  
will need to be built.

Of course, my original argument was that a document about mobile web  
design did not have to give best practices for desktop web design.

Barbara Ballard       1-785-838-3003
Received on Saturday, 23 July 2005 14:11:59 UTC

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