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Thursday, October 11, 2007
By Yokota Fritz


I just ran across this Cyclelicious Mobile Widget from Plusmo. The Mobile Widget is a piece of software for your cell phone or other mobile device that sends Cyclelicious content to your phone, automatically.

I'm not a user of small mobile technology -- in fact, my cell phone died about 3 weeks ago and I have yet to replace it. I know of at least one regular reader who does much of his blog reading on a mobile device. What should I do to make Cyclelicious friendlier to cell phones and similar mobile gadgets?

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The big challenge with reading web pages on mobile devices comes from the variety of UIs, which range from a tiny low(ish) resolution screen, through larger smartphone screens (some with touchscreen) and onwards into the PDA form factor. Add to this the differences in how browsers render pages and you'll probably find that a 'one size fits all' mobile solution probably isn't the best bet. I've read cycleicious on several different phones now and none of them has really rendered the pages properly, largely because the browsers get confused by the boxes and sidebars. With the exception of PDAs, on mobile devices I now read cycleicious (and most sites) almost exclusively via RSS, either the native apps preinstalled in the phone or increasingly via the mobile version of google reader.

Practically this means that to be truly useful on a mobile you need to have pages formatted in different ways to suit the range of UIs. The most elegant solutions autodetect the browser/phone and serve the appropriate pages- this is a better solution that guessing from the originating domain because many people use laptops over a mobile data connection and you don;t want to serve them the mobile version. If this is too comlpicated at least allow the user to choose the version and remember it using a cookie so the correct version gets presented on subsequent hits.

I'd reccomend a simple solution (single column, no/low res graphics) for basic phones, along with a more bells and whistles version for PDAs. The BBC's site is a good example, though not the only one.
 
Hi Fritz,

I would suggest you to check out FeedM8 (www.feedm8.com). FeedM8 converts web pages to and optimizes for any mobile phone - from RAZRs/Blackberries to iPhones. The best of all, it is free.

Allen
Co-founder
FeedM8
 
Thanks Mike for the detailed comment. I use CSS and in fact the sidebars can be completely eliminated if you'd like. Is there such a thing as a mobile device media type in CSS? If so, I'll look into that.

Thanks for pointing me to feed8, Allen. I'll take a look. I really should learn this stuff.
 
Sure Fritz, use the photo
Ira from Bicycle-Musings
 
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