Fennec – Mobile Optimzed Web Pages

Back when MTV still played videos, the Internet was full of web pages designed to work in desktop browsers. Life was good – so were the videos. Fast forward to today. The Web is still full of “best viewed in a desktop browser” web pages, however, you can also find lots of “made for mobile” web pages too.

Mobile optimized web pages can range from boring, bare-bones pages designed for featurephones to visually pleasing, full-featured pages designed for touchscreen smartphones. Web designers have a few techniques they can use to tell a web browser that a web page is optimized for a mobile device. Learn the Mobile Web has a nice post summarizing these DOCTYPEs and meta tags. Web browsers can look for these hints and adjust how the page is displayed, making the site easier to use.

Mobile Firefox is built to display all kinds of pages. In the upcoming release of Beta 5 for Maemo, we added support for a variety for mobile optimization techniques. We support the DOCTYPE approach as well as the “HandheldFriendly” and “viewport” meta tags.

We could definitely use help testing these features, especially “viewport” since we don’t have a complete implementation of it yet.

3 Comments

  1. Colby Russell said,

    November 10, 2009 @ 2:33 am

    I thought the whole point behind Fennec was for mobile web users to experience the web as-it-is, and not some marginal, crippled, mobile version? Doesn’t implementing hooks for the web on mobile devices encourage the bad habit of creating discrete versions?

    Rather than taking these kinds of counterproductive steps, shouldn’t we instead be telling people to always design pages to scale, with no guarantee for viewport size? Not only does it prevent the marginalization issue that results from the “I’ll get around to it sometime” parallel development process, but just because I am viewing on a widescreen display doesn’t mean that I want my browser to require that I dedicate the full dimensions of my screen to it. With increasingly larger screens, my productivity should increase. When you consider that studies find that reading efficiency decreases when the widths of columns of text approach the size of today’s typical displays, you realize that exactly the opposite is occurring: people are less productive when they’re reading Wikipedia through a maximized window on a 20 inch, 1600 pixel display than they would have been if they were reading from a maximized window on a supposedly inferior display from last decade.

  2. Duda Mobile said,

    November 12, 2009 @ 3:56 am

    Thanks for keeping us posted on what’s coming down the line from FF. For your readers who are wondering why they would need a mobile optimized website I invite them to read this post: http://blog.dudamobile.com/why-build-a-mobile-website/

  3. Colby Russell said,

    November 12, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    Duda Mobile, I’m not sure if that comment was a response to what I wrote, but in any case I’ve replied here as well as to the post you linked to on your blog.

    If accessing your “normal” website on a mobile device is painful, your “normal” website sucks. The solution is not to divide your time into making a mobile-targeted website and a desktop-targeted website, it’s to make an accessible website from the start. You’ll end up with happy mobile users, the (potentially silent) subset of users who found your website frustrating to access on the desktop will shrink, and it will be available to both parties in a fraction of the time that it would if you were to develop two separate websites; there will be no down period for mobile users while you’re trying to put something together.

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