Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mobile Websites

I hadn't really given it much thought until recently, but now I'm on a mission to find mobile versions of websites that I regularly use. The iPhone's web browser is very good, but it is still very small relative to the 17" - 24" monitors I otherwise use. Pinching and zooming is cute for a while, but does eventually get annoying. Not to mention that even though I largely don't have complaints about the speed of Edge, I don't always have the strongest signal and some sites take a while to load. Mobile versions of those sites tend to strip away the graphic fluff, and leave me what I'm most interested in usually: content. So while it is nice to have access to the "full" internet when I want it, for regular use I'd just as soon have something tailored to my screen size.

When mobile versions (and I might even go so far as to say iPhone versions) of web sites first started to appear, there was some grumbling on the various blog sites. There were a variety of complaints: If the iPhone's web browser is so good, why should this be necessary? This creates extra work for web developers. On and on, etc. For the most part, I skipped this discussion because I really didn't care. I continued on using the full web sites.

In hindsight, I find the complaints to be rather funny. Web developers in particular were very slow in adapting their web sites to larger screen sizes. People continued to design their sites to be acceptable at 640 x 480, even years after I had last seen a screen that small. Granted, in those days, the tools and technologies available didn't make scaling very easy. But still, the condition is more or less the same, but no one seems to be making the argument anymore. The only difference is that this screen can fit in my pocket - and it isn't the smallest possible web-surfing screen out there - meanwhile web developers have finally decided that bigger is better. And to be fair, the tools got better so making flexible sites isn't as big a deal as it once was.

Web development has come far enough along now that pretty much the only thing that should be required to make a functional mobile version of a site is to remove the style sheet (CSS). Sure, the results may not be as beautiful as they could be, but if that is a concern, then design for my screen size anyway. And it really shouldn't be all that hard to come up with a new style sheet suited for this device. Mobile web browsing isn't going away. As more and more devices come out to compete with the iPhone, the number of people who want a reasonable small-screen browsing experience is going to grow significantly.

At any rate, I've added a section of links (not to mention my own personal bookmarks) to the mobile versions of sites that I use and have been able to find so far. If you know of others, please let me know. I'm not having much luck finding a live score updater that I like, specifically NCAAF, NCAAB, and NFL. Finding options, just none that do exactly what I want.

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