Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Mobile Web Must Live On!

Usability of the mobile web ...

"Today, the Mobile Gadgeteer has written about how Mowser has ended it's services. I guess Mowser was a website transcoding service that automatically reformatted websites for easier reading on small screened mobile devices. I never heard of Mowser, but had been using Skweezer, MobileLeap, and Live Search to do that kind of thing on Pocket Internet Explorer.

One of Mowser's founders posted a blog entry saying that the mobile web will never be popular. I can see where he's coming from. Most users don't know about the ability to transcode websites into easier-to-use versions and just dismiss the usability issues on the device's web browser (even though the majority of fault more likely lies in the hands of the site's web designers.)

Kevin Perkins of Skweezer posted another blog entry in response to the Mowser closing:

So, is Mowser's death also the death of the Mobile Web? Hardly. Matthew Miller raises a number of key points why the Mobile Web will continue on. One thing that I'd like to add to Matthew's "environment-optimized, one Web" notion… is that there's a bigger picture here than just "desktop" and "mobile". As "Web" content finds its way outside of these environments more and more (handheld games, cars, SMS, etc), users and publishers will need a solution that will continue to provide semantic access to content while providing publishers with tools to monetize this activity.

While having what Apple calls the "real" Internet on your phone sounds appealing, in practice, it's actually quite difficult and annoying to use. It's a lot of work to zoom and pan and scroll all around a large-screen-desktop-designed website on a small screen. Having the useless stuff stripped out, and using a simple one-directional scrolling interface in order to read content is generally much easier, faster, and efficient. I said "generally" because often you get stuck with a huge amount of side-bar links at the top of a re-formatted one-column page that you have to scroll through each time. In those cases, the fast-scrolling and zooming abilities do improve the usability.

A lot of people are begging for in-browser Flash video support as well. I've used this in Skyfire and it's extremely frustrating. The TCPMP + Flashbundle method... where clicking on a site with a flash video embedded brings up a menu with the "Play video" command, which brings you to a full-screen media player for that video... is far far far more user friendly and a pleasure to use."    (Continued via    [Usability Resources]


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