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The Mobile Web Experience

Today is a quick overview of my brief mobile web and smart phone experience.   Yesterday I decided to upgrade my LG phone to the Motorola Q.  The first few hours were quite the experience.  I'll delve into some simple points about smart phones and designing for the mobile web.

It all started with holding for customer service to for an hour and a half.  I was having an issue restoring my contact list. For whatever reason they inadvertently hung up on me three times.  In the end, a nice gentleman was finally able to straighten me out.  All I was looking for was an honest answer. Not someone telling me "you're doing something wrong."  It shouldn't be this difficult for a geek!

Here is the big point for today: I've been hearing for years about how the mobile web is going to explode and that everyone should jump on board.  This day is eventually coming, but I think we still have a way to go. 

Companies are pushing "up to near broadband speed." with specialized service. Unless you are standing outside next to the cell tower with perfect atmospheric conditions, you won't be getting anything near broadband.  Only one person from the company I have service with has actually admitted to me that the technology is far from perfect.  And I'm not expecting perfect. But I do expect you to deliver something close to the service you advertise for your company.  There is a good article on 37signals.com that addresses my I've had it up to here with "up to" issue.

There is still a learning curve for me to figure out how to surf the web with my phone. But given my personal experience it should have been a bit easier.  Most sites don't render properly because they weren't designed to be displayed on mobile phones.  I fully understand that.  The easiest sites to access were those sites that were primarily HTML based. 

If you are designing for the web, especially the mobile web, keep it simple!  Use a sub domain: mobile.mywebsite.com or redirect users to a mobile optimized page of your site. It should contain more HTML text that images. I don't recommend Flash or video within your mobile pages. Mobile  Flash content delivery is very archaic. The big companies are pushing their own technologies via their networks for video.  I have yet to see a personal site or small business site that delivers quality video to mobile phones. There is a reason why everyone likes big computer monitors!

The new generation of smart phones are best suited for the power users.  If you are looking to purchase a smart phone they do have their limitations.  Surfing the not mobile web is very tedious. Email and messaging seem to work the best. Do you homework on which phone might best suit you.

The mobile web is still waiting in the wings.  If you don't need a smart phone, I would recommend staying away for a while. Good luck!

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