.. and a Pony!

From the "why I don't read Robert Scoble any more" department:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/01/and-a-pony.html

Of course you can’t expect a single design to cover everything from cellphones to hi-res monitors. Instead you have to pay a bit more attention to what the user agents are asking for. If they prefer WML to HTML, then redirect them to your WAP content. I-mode UAs prefer cHTML, so you need to identify those too.

But that’s exactly it: Scoble is asking the wrong question. What he should be asking is, “Why don’t all sites have special content for mobile devices?”

I think there are perfectly rational reasons NOT to have mobile content, as many posters have cited above.

Stating “everything I browse should just work on a 176x220 screen” isn’t helpful. It’s not a meaningful discussion of the actual problem, even.

Also, a bit of attribution… the phrase “and a Pony” seems to come from Calvin and Hobbes:


Susie may have originated the “and a pony” meme, in a strip collected in Something Under the Bed Is Drooling (1988-04). Wondering why Calvin calls her “names for no reason? It’s just mean,” Susie wishes she had a hundred friends. “Then my hundred friends and I would go do something fun, and leave Calvin all alone! Ha! …and as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony.”

I’ve used it for a couple years without being able to define where I heard it first.

I want my Pony! And a bunny with a pancake on its head.

Scoble shouldn’t be asking “Why don’t all sites have special content for mobile devices?” because that kind of content defeats everything what the web SHOULD be. And it should be accessible to everyone, everywhere; that’s what “web development with standards in mind” means.

More and more people are browsing the web using their mobile phones; losing them because you’ve failed to understand that it’s 2006 is nothing short of stupid. Designing alternative content and employing UA sniffing is a workaround against a problem that shouldn’t be there in the first place. You might argue that not every mobile browser is standards-compliant enough, but things ARE improving - as a matter of fact, I now know 17 people who have started using Opera Mini in the last week. Other browsers will follow Opera’s lead some day in the not-so-distant future.

AJAX and Flash are nice for some things. But go ask my blind cousin (yes, I do have a blind cousin) what he thinks about sites which use them for something that’s not meaningless (like ads or luckily-blockable shoutboxes), but the site’s main functionality.

Jeff’s post above mentions frameworkitis; this blog entry is, unfortunately, about desktopitis.

The web is not the desktop, people, and will be even LESS connected to the desktop as time goes by. Think mobile.

P.S. Jeff’s blog is, of course, perfectly viewable on any mobile device, in any browser.

Jeff, with all due respect, it is perfectly possible to design perfectly nice websites that would be perfectly usable on mobile phones.

That’s called “web development with standards in mind”. It includes handheld media CSS, non-table-based layouts, structured and semantic markup, etc.

You, sir, are a genius. I died laughing when I read this, and the link to my favorite web comic was just too much. Right on.

Does anyone indeed require “seamless” scaling?
I’d guess site being usable/readable is enough. And that is not impossible.

I’m currently working on getting my site to where it doesn’t require a flash plugin or javascript to be turned on. After I’ve completed that so it’s viewable on any browser including those that run in a high-security mode, then maybe I’ll work on making it look good on a phone.

Round our way we call that asking for the moon on a stick.

You seem to be confusing compatibility with scalability. Of course you can’t expect a single design to cover everything from cellphones to hi-res monitors. Instead you have to pay a bit more attention to what the user agents are asking for. If they prefer WML to HTML, then redirect them to your WAP content. I-mode UAs prefer cHTML, so you need to identify those too.

If your business website doesn’t support handheld devices, then you’re losing trade. It’s as simple as that.

Hey Scoble, maybe if IE supported CSS a little better (like max-width and true font resizability) we wouldn’t have these problems.

Oh, and IE for mobile devices doesn’t support the “handheld” CSS mediatype correctly.

I can somewhat agree what business sites should cater to as many devices as possible (especially tech companies) but what about personal sites? Scoble spends a lot of time reading blogs and I don’t think bloggers want to spend all their time catering to the small number of users that view their blogs on mobile devices (i say small number in comparison to those viewing on a pc).

I am sure you can create a great page by doing “web development with standards in mind”. But sometimes you require functionality that are not “standard” and more often the client browsers does not support the standards.

It is my experience that there are no 100% web standards, and because of that you have to look into what is most often used and somehow scale down to your own common standard. If you do that, you can create a perfectly functional site that can work on 99% browser clients, whenever it is browser on mobile phone, pda or pc.

But when you have functionality like Ajax and Flash that can (WHEN used correct and ON the right client software) provide the user with a better experience I would not skip that just support ALL costumers. I would much rather have that in mind when I develop my web application and have that application handle each client differently.

As with Netscape users suffered due to Microsoft’s IE takeover, so will the mobile users for some time suffer from being on a platform that are lesser used.

But yes I agree that we need to take mobile users more into accounts since they are becoming better and better as browser clients. But I cant see myself read long posts and texts like many Blog’s or read code examples that often are several characters wide on a phone.

Me personally I have pc’s almost everywhere I go, and I cant surf while driving from/to work, and if I on some rare occasion should be without brows able hardware, I would much better read a book, listen to some music or tickle some women.

Anyway, isn’t the mobile browser market even more chaotic then the pc browser market where we only have FF, IE, Safari, Opera, etc.? Maybe I am too old fashioned when it comes to mobile phones, but it seems like a new model pops up every week, tons of different screen resolutions, different amount of memory, colour support and manufacture. Seems like a impossible task to implement a site without doing the most basic layout and navigation.

Who Really Browses on their Cell Phones Anyway?
a href="http://www.damnralph.com/2006/01/02/WhoReallyBrowsesOnTheirCellPhoneAnyways.aspx"http://www.damnralph.com/2006/01/02/WhoReallyBrowsesOnTheirCellPhoneAnyways.aspx/a

Our website (http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk) was designed with multiple resolutions in mind, so everything stretches. But it’s still far from perfect.

For mobile users, that’s why we designed our WAP site (wap.avonandsomerset.police.uk) as there is just too much content on our primary site.

Just sit closer to the monitor. Check out that scaling!


(What Would Jakob Nielsen Do?)

Designing a great and easy to use webpage is more than just coding to web standards. It’s also a form of art. Developers who cannot excel at both do not deserve the title.

That being said, it is ridiculous to argue that every webpage on the internet should be choked of creativity simply so it will look “okay” on a 176x220 screen. Why should I give up what would otherwise be a great usability aspect in my design, simply so the 0.1% of my audience that are on handhelds, don’t have to use the vertical scroll bar?

I say, anyone perfectly willing to give up that much creativity, probably doesn’t have any to begin with. If you are really concerned about how your webpage looks on a handheld, then skin it, and make a PDA version so the users can choose. Don’t argue to take away my freedom to make a beautiful artistic design simply because you don’t know or care how.

I want a Pony. I want a flesheating, dorkstomping pony. I want it to trample the Scobelizer and subsequently eat him.

Seriously, if you ever refer to yourself as the Anything-izer, you’ve gone from garden-variety douchebag (i.e., he who references himself in the third-person) to a whole new order of asshat that I can’t even begin to discuss without it making me throw up in my mouth.

I want a jetpack, I want a hot dog, I want a puppy dog…