STOP, LOOK, THINK – What Is Material Really Going To Look Like on A Mobile Device

Opinions differ on text based material on mobile devices from those who believe the zoom feature of phones like the iPhone means that material developed for the web will need little or no change for use to people that believe the exact opposite (e.g. limited amount of text per screen, essential text only).

This video might HELP you form your own opinion on designing text based material for mobile devices used for mlearning (mobile learning). In it Nick Cowie demonstrates why you need to design mobile specific websites for mobile phones in his humorous WebSledge for Perth WebJam. While Nick’s video is based on mobile phones the same principles apply to all mobile devices. Thanks to Nick Cowie for giving me permission to use his Slides and letting me create this video, and Stewart Greenhill for letting me use his audio to create this video.

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Read these articles for more information on using the Mobile Web in Education:

  1. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  2. What can we do about policies that are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology?
  3. Please Wait a Sec, Just Need to Check Training Info on My Mobile Phone?
  4. Will Mobiles Be THE Tool of The Future?
  5. Mobile learning
  6. iPhone vs Mobile web

13 thoughts on “STOP, LOOK, THINK – What Is Material Really Going To Look Like on A Mobile Device

  1. The major problem with the mobile web is the large number of browsers that are available. This makes it impossible to test effectivity on all mobile platforms without a major budget outlay. I know this sounds wrong, but until the mobile web market decides on a limited amount of design platforms (not 40+ as it is today) then most designers with not go near the mobile web as its not economic to do so.

    I believe this will force the issue of the phones having better browsers. Its interesting to note Nick broke the sites on a windows mobile browser. The others browsers are okay (or reasonable). Its a numbers game. What are the stats for users with Windows mobile browsers.

    If it is high we have to all go out and buy an extra phone just to test on. There will be a lot of web designers not happy about this.

    Gary Barber Reply

  2. Wow, that’s eye-opening. Now I’m really scared to look at my blog and site, so it’s a good thing I don’t know how to! Hope the next article is how to fix such things?

    Christine Martell Reply

  3. This is a massive problem and a real nightmare for developers. It is bad enough developing software for mobile devices that are not web based due to different hardware configurations and sizes. I ended up making a text only site for mobile devices of my business site aboutdata.com.au but there are no guarrantees that this will work with all browsers either.
    Still a matter of trial and error with all these new technologies.
    Great article!

    Frances Reply

  4. Yes, I chose to demonstrate using IE mobile on a windows mobile device because that is what I use. I do like Opera Mini 4, but the beta has problem with WM6 on my mobile.

    Gary, unfortunately web browsers on mobile devices are changing rapidly. Since the beginning of the year there has been at least one new major version of all the popular browsers Opera Mini, IE Mobile, Nokia S60 browser plus new entrants Deepfish, Safari and others entering the market. It will be a while before there is consistency across browsers.

    If ever, because there are issues and differing opinions on the best way to display a website built for a 17″ screen on a 3″ screen.

    Stats for mobile devices are extremely difficult because I am sure our trusty friend google analytic javascript does not work with mobile devices.

    Christine, if you are using wordpress you can get a plugin that diverts your visitors to a version of your site that is optimised for mobile devices.

    Nick Cowie Reply

  5. On a recent trip to the UK I took my new Nokia N95 to test it as a portable communications device. It has a 4 x 5.5cm screen and can do the lot: calls, photography, emails, web-browsing, GPS location. It found me to the metre and showed me cafes, landmarks etc around that place. Great fun.

    The fun stopped with the browsing experience. Yes it can break up a page, zoom in and so on, but the most irritating feature, and the one which would turn off people from any text-based access is the simple fact of the size of the screen, the text, and the interruption to the reading/browsing experience caused by constant moving in and out and around the screen.

    I have found students not particularly patient with clunky or even not clunky but slow or unreceptive devices. They would abandon this PDQ. I did and reverted to the cyber cafe round the corner.

    My quick and easy photo uploads to Flickr were a snap as was email reading etc but no to other web-based interaction. For now.

    Kate Foy Reply

  6. Hi Everyone

    Thanks for taking time to comment on this post.

    Can totally understand why web designers choose not to go near the mobile web – no wonder, changing rapidly and too many web browsers.

    Gary asks an interesting question “What are the stats for users with Windows mobile browsers”. I would definitely love to know the current sales on the different mobile devices – any idea where I could look? I am also using mobile IE.

    Thanks Kate for telling me about your web browsing experience with Nokia N95. I am going to have to convince someone with this phone to let me test web browsing for myself so I can compare it to on my PDA. Was it expensive to upload your photos to Flickr?

    Christine I have attempted to answer your question in this post however Nick has also suggested that if you use WordPress you can add a plugin that refers your readers to your mobile site.

    Sue

    dswaters Reply

  7. Sue
    Re the uploads to Flickr. I haven’t drilled down into the Optus bill for details on which uploads were Flickr and which posts to Tumblr and Twitter. I was trying them all. Given I was working via UK companies, I imagine I would have paid a premium. My maths says it worked out at a little less than 20 cents for 10KB. I used wireless hotspots when I could find them, and most worked pretty quickly.

    The N95 also found the hotspots for me via the maps application. See if you can get your hands on this phone and play for a bit. I think you will like it. The camera alone (5 megapixel) is fabulous.

    dramagirl Reply

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