RE: Best Practices document - not best practices

Well those who are believers in the strict interpretation of the "one
web"  goal would say that you shouldn't be able to tell the difference
at all.

However, I think that is rather idealistic, and following it too
strictly could end up making the user experience worse in some cases
rather than better.

The Google site works well on a mobile and PC web browser, by detecting
the type of device you are on and redirecting you (if necessary) to a
different URL, (on my phone anyway) that then
presents a different version of the content, specific to your device.
This is fine, and hats off to Google for taking mobile users seriously.

A purist might say this breaks the "one web" principle.  If you shared
bookmarks between your PC and your phone, and try to access with your PC browser, then you won't get so

Its not a huge leap from the process that happens above to redirecting
the mobile user to (which thankfully doesn't yet
exist) as this would be an example of breaking the web.

I may be somewhat biased ;-) 
but a better, or at least another example of a well behaved site is:

Once there, if you choose "Search Directory" you can find a variety of
mobile content.
Whether you visit this site on your phone, or on your PC browser, you
will receive exactly the same experience.  (Please do try this!)

Well ... My last assertion isn't quite true, your experience may vary
depending on your network operator, but that is by design.

Is this the best experience though?

If you visit 

on your phone, you will (hopefully) have the same experience as you did

If you visit this second URL on a PC browser, you will be deliberately
redirected, (whether rightly or wrongly according to the theory), to an
experience that should make the process of finding mobile content on
your PC much easier and more enjoyable.

I think this illustrates a key question, that I'm not sure has been
discussed much so far:

By automatically adapting the content based on the device accessing the
site, are we in fact restricting the user's choice?

I believe that one of the Best Practices should be to include on all
sites a standard and simple way to allow the user to decide whether they
want to see the 'fully blown' version of the content even if they are
viewing it on a mobile device, or vice versa, to be able to view the
summarised/abridged mobile version of the content on their PC browser.

Take for example the MWI 'homepage' here:
(I've picked this page purely as an example of a relatively simple web
page in terms of design/layout etc and the amount of information on it -
I'm not saying anything about the quality of it in the context of this

That page (at he time of writing) contains roughly 5500 characters of
which equates to about 3 'screens' in my PC browser.  As such it is a
nice easy web page to read.

On my phone it works quite well too as the browser will display about 10
lines of text with about 25 characters on each line. The logos at the
top work well, the headings come out in different, coloured fonts.  The
'News' section comes out in a box with a shaded background and the text
is all in one long narrow column so I can just scroll down to read it
I do however have to scroll through about 20 or so screens to do so.

If I looked at this page on my first WAP phone (which had a monochrome
display that showed 3 lines of 15 characters) then it's a different
The images wont work, the headings are indistinguishable from the rest
of the text, and to read the whole page I need to scroll through way too
many screens.

In this situation I'd much rather have the choice of seeing a summary.
If there was a link near the top that said 'read the short version for
mobile phones' that linked to an abridged version of the text, then I
may well persevere and read the page, and although I'd clearly lose some
of the fine detail, that is my choice.

On the other hand, if I had no other way of accessing the page, and
needed to know every detail, then I could also scroll rather painfully
through 100 or so screens of text and achieve my goal.

The point I'm trying to make is that it isn't always best to try and
display exactly the same content on every device.

Content adaptation could make the experience better for the user in many
cases, but a good 'best practice' would be a standardised way of
allowing the user to override the adaptation decisions made
automatically for them, if they so wish.

Tim Moss
m: +44 78 8779 4032
t: +44 12 2347 2823
Mobile Content World 2005 
"Come and see us on stand 14 at MCW 2005
Olympia Conference Centre, London, UK
13th - 15th September 2005" 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
> [] On Behalf Of Holley Kevin (Centre)
> Sent: 20 July 2005 21:24
> To: Daniel Barclay; Barbara Ballard
> Cc:
> Subject: RE: Best Practices document - not best practices
> Could I ask how we tell the difference between "mobile web" 
> and "regular web" ?
> Personally I use a mobile device to view "web" pages.  In 
> many cases I can read what is there irrespective of whether 
> the target is "mainstream web" or "mobile web".  
> Witness 
> This website displays very well on mobile devices and 
> desktop-based browsers.
> Regards,
> Kevin 
> -----Original Message-----
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> From: 
> [] On Behalf Of Daniel Barclay
> Sent: 20 July 2005 17:26
> To: Barbara Ballard
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Best Practices document - not best practices
> Barbara Ballard wrote:
> >> I think you missed my point:  It's a bit contradictory
> >> (hypocritical?) for a page about best practices for the 
> mobile web to
> >> not follow best practices for the regular web.
> > 
> > 
> > If the document is written for mobile web, then best 
> practices for the 
> > regular web are irrelevant.
> The document _about_ the mobile web is _presented_ on the regular web.
> Although good practices for the regular web may be irrelevent 
> to the _content_ of the document, they are certainly relevant 
> to the _presentation_ of the document.
> Not bothering to understand and follow good practices for the 
> regular web in the presentation of that document certainly 
> does not instill confidence in the content.
>  > In fact, best practices for the  regular
> > web can greatly interfere with the experience on the mobile web.
> Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if you're referring to 
> common practices that I'd argue aren't good practices (e.g., 
> pages or text documents that have widths tied to fixed-width 
> elements).
> Daniel

Received on Sunday, 31 July 2005 20:27:01 UTC