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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Mobile Devices and

July 11th, 2007 by Erick Beck

One of the last entries we posted in the style guide dealt with creating web pages with mobile devices in mind. The timing of the post was appropriate, with the iPhone drawing so much attention to mobile computing. Of course the iPhone ships with a functional Safari embedded in it, so it doesn’t distort web sites the way most phones do, but most of our viewers won’t be using an iPhone.

Given the rapid growth of technology in this sector, and the equally fast adoption of this technology by our students, I think we need to seriously consider making mobile accessibility a requirement in our designs. With that in mind, my intention is to make the next version of mobile friendly (while it is currently usable it certainly isn’t friendly, and many sites on campus are not even usable…)

One thing that I have noticed is that good design for mobile devices pushes us even closer into creating nicely accessible pages for all. The title attribute on an href, for example, was something that I sometimes used but never gave as much importance as an alt tag for images. Once I started actively browsing on a phone and analyzing what I was (or wasn’t…) seeing, though, I dicovered that many devices use this attribute in the status bar to show your progress down the page. It will substitute the attribute’s value for the generic “Submit Link.” Similarly, I think tabindex could also become much more important than it is generally considered now.

I still have to do some research in to the best way of doing it – a separate domain for mobile users, targeted CSS, or some other method. Using targeted CSS would be my philosophical preference, but I’m going to need to think about things like the cost (both monetarily depending on your phone plan, and in terms of rendering speed) of downloaded bytes that just get “hidden” by a style sheet. How well the CMS incorporates this distinction will probably also be a major factor.

Feedback would be appreciated from anyone who has already worked with building a truly mobile friendly, large scale web site.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007 Mobile Web, Ongoing Projects,
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1 Comment to Mobile Devices and

  1. Besides the typical mobile device, Nintendo now offers a modified Opera mobile browser for its DS Lite game system. Using the system’s wireless capabilities it offers a fairly decent set of features and makes pretty good use of the dual-screen capabilities. And to agree with Erick, it’s surprising what renders well and doesn’t render well on this mobile device.

  2. chiv on July 16th, 2007

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