Surfing The Web On Mobile Devices

I just recently got an Internet-capable PocketPC, and I was amazed to find how many web sites are truly unfriendly toward those types of devices.

Google, so far, is the only site I’ve browsed that specifically caters to handheld devices. MapQuest is still usable on handhelds, but it’s not very pretty. Yahoo! is almost completely worthless on my handheld, especially when trying to mess around with my Yahoo! mail.


Google.com actually re-directs handheld visitors to a special site that is designed specifically for those users. The site contains no extra items. It’s just a Google logo, made to fit on the screen, a textbox for your search terms, and a form submit button.

MapQuest doesn’t really cater to handheld visitors, but their site is still usable. When you visit MapQuest, you see exactly the same site you see on your desktop browser. However, MapQuest has not really employed any elements in their site design that would be specifically offensive to handheld visitors. Visiting and using their site simply requires the visitor to scroll quite a bit in order to view the maps and directions in a readable manner.

Yahoo!, however, seems to have completely alienated those of us visiting their site with handheld devices. When you enter your Yahoo! mail, you are extremely limited as to what you can actually do. You cannot compose new messages, because the “Compose” button seems to be disabled for visitors using IE mobile.

Another common item I’ve found on web sites that really hurts those of us browsing on our handhelds is the “onlcick” link. By this, I don’t mean conventional anchor links. I am actually talking about list items and table cells that use the “onclick” event handler to act as the link. A lot of web designers seem to be employing this method of linking nowadays, and are not included the conventional anchor link in addition to those types of links. Unfortunately, because there is no “mouse” on the handheld, there is no “click”, which means the “onclick” event handler is never called. Obviously, this means that you cannot click on those types of links, which means you can’t go anywhere on those sites.

Please share your experiences browsing the web with handheld devices. As I said, I just recently acquired an internet-capable PocketPC, so I’ve only just begun my experiences with IE mobile.

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2 Responses

  • OnlineShopping

    I’ve had this same problem. However I wasn’t sure if it was my device causing the problems or if the sites just weren’t equipped to be browsed from pocket PC’s. I guess I now know that it is the latter.

    I’m surprised that most of the “big” sites haven’t done anything to alleviate this problem yet. As usual, it seems that Google is one step ahead of the competition. I’m particularly surprised at Yahoo not attempting to fix this problem, since their website is consumer based with their own content supply. As I’m thinking though, there has to be a product out there that is able to somewhat bypass some of these problems, either through creative scripting built into the browser or older versions of the site that are less cluttered with graphics and frames that are still accessbile, and easier for a PocketPC to handle. Any news on this?

    And if no product is available yet that meets that description, is there anything in the works planned to be released anytime in the near future? I’ve noticed that Instant Messaing (regardless of which program I use) is also more difficult on my PocketPC. I have tried downloading and installing several composite programs and IM apps designed specifically for instant messaging on mobile devices, but I still have yet to find anything that works quite the way I want it to. What are some of the programs you guys are using? Perhaps I just have not found the right one yet. I have looked on Cnet and several other reputable site, but just haven’t come across one that I like for mobile IM’ing. I know I can’t be the only one having this problem, and I’m sure someone out there has creatively found a way to improve this dilemma if not fix it altogether. Any suggestions? For anybody that was in the same boat I am in currently, what steps did you take to make instant messaging more efficient from your mobile device? Thanks in advance for any tips or advice.

    I’ll check back later to see what you guys have recommended.

  • dialog

    The onclick way of linking is also hateful for desktop users who happen to have javascript disabled, and it also prevents searchbots to index the site properly.

    One method I tend to use, which is advised in many articles, is HiJAX. I think its mentioned in the book AJAX Hacks. This is done by using normal anchor links and then using javascript – after the page loads – to change the behaviour of the elements by adding the onclick attribute. This way, the links would still work for users who don’t have javascript or onclick support and those that do can still enjoy a privileged user experience.

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