Support for Mobile Devices

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Mac_Fife
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Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:11 am

Spawned in response to Nalates post in the The OpenUru Big Blog Banner Brawl.
Nalates wrote:All the sites we are designing now are 'responsive,' self-adapting to the device used to display them. WordPress is changing over. Presumably phpBB will.
It's not something I'm holding my breath on. It has been touted as maybe something for version 3.2 while the current release is 3.0.11. As Hoikas noted in the Forums section, 3.0 has been around for 5 years or so, suggesting that 3.2 is still several years away. There's also the wiki to consider; work on mobile support in MediWiki seems to have stalled although "mobile skins" exists.

Mobile skins, or forum styles, are OK, but they need to be applied automatically, i.e. the site needs to be "responsive" as Nalates suggests in her posts: If the user needs to manually adjust their profile when moving across devices then it's not helpful.

But the first question is "Is mobile support needed on OU or just nice to have?" I have to recuse myself on this question as I am not a "mobile user" and have to defer to the opinions of others: In the thread on forum "Bad Theme on Mobile" thread referenced above, I'm not seeing what I'd consider an overwhelming clamour for mobile support. On the back of Hoikas' suggestion in that thread, on another site that I run I asked the membership there about opinions on providing mobile support (a technical community, including some major players in the telecoms industry) and the response was underwhelming - there were two "Yes, it's a great idea!", one "No, it's not worth it" and two "Hum, OK, but I only look at websites on a mobile device when I don't have an alternative". And several more people who obviously didn't care enough to comment one way or the other. Now, that's a different community and doesn't necessarily reflect the way people visiting here use mobile devices, but it means I'm not sure if the demand really exists :?
I did get some other comments on how lousy Android is as an OS but that's really going OT 8-)
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Christian Walther
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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Christian Walther » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:19 pm

I'm in the "I only look at web sites on mobile devices when I have to" camp. And I usually don't have to because I have my laptop with me.

I am tentatively posting this from my iPhone, on which the forum looks slightly less unusable than on Hoikas' Android screenshots. But I find that the main annoyance is that text editing works much better with a full keyboard and a trackpad, which wouldn't be changed by a mobile-optimized web interface or an app like Tapatalk.

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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Hoikas » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:44 pm

I generally don't care to look at websites or wikis while on mobile devices because my primary reason for doing either of those is that I'm coding, or doing some other complex task on my PC. However, I actively want to use forums while on my mobile device. That means I need an interface which I can read without zooming the text to massive sizes (all forums fail this test) and a posting interface where the emoticons are not 200x bigger than the posting text area (many forums fail this test).
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Nalates
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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Nalates » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:09 pm

Whether it is worth the time on OU is really a matter of the site’s demographic. Then the issue of who does one want to appeal to?

We have the challenge of deciding if there is going to be a movie or not. If the movie goes, then we will have in influx of a new demographic. But, that is probably a ways off and only a long term consideration.

The site http://www.netmarketshare.com/ gives us some information to consider.

The page we are interested in is: http://www.netmarketshare.com/report.aspx?qprid=61

In general, only 11% of visitors use mobile to browse a site. So, it isn’t an urgent need. But, there is a Catch-22 in the data. Most of the webs are not responsive design, not mobile friendly. So, people tend to browse at home and save mobile bandwidth. That is changing. I expect mobile growth to speed up. But, current rates suggest it will be 2 years before a site really needs to be responsive.

The web site shows what appears to be exponential growth in mobile use. But, it is too soon to really tell. We are changing our web clients over to responsive sites and I plan to change my blog over something this year.

If the site needs to place well to attract visitors, then it is important to handle responsive design and image sizes for mobile now. Google, Bing, and others are placing a high emphasis on page load time.

Fortunately forums have few images.

While I think it is desirable for OU, it is not an urgent issue.

The icon sizing is an easy fix. Adaptive Images is a package that easily installs and uses a single line of JS in the site header and a php page along with an .htaccess change. It handles all the existing images and requires no other changes to a site. That might be the only change needed here for some time.
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Mac_Fife
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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:16 pm

Nalates wrote:We have the challenge of deciding if there is going to be a movie or not. If the movie goes, then we will have in influx of a new demographic. But, that is probably a ways off and only a long term consideration.
That's not a decision we take. It happens or it doesn't. But either way, I don't expect that to have a huge impact on the OU demographic - the purpose of this site is different to mystonline.com, where I could see a bigger change. And a movie is potentially a long way off, if it ever does happen, so we should consider the needs of the membership we know we have, and set aside the possible desires of a potential membership that may or may not exist.
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Trekluver
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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Trekluver » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:11 am

I don't see any real need to redesign the whole OU site for mobile support. For me, on both iOS and android, the main website, aside from the navigation bar/header (Which I believe Mac said in another thread is going to be redesigned anyways?), looks good. The forums have a lot to be desired on mobile devices, but overall I'm not sure that immediate action needs to be taken just yet.

One thing that looks absolutely horrible on android smartphones though (I can't speak for android tablets) is the CAVCON iframe. On iOS devices it looks just fine, but on android it scrunches the frame up into an odd looking box that really detracts from the website at hand. I'm not sure if this can be easily fixed, but it's something to consider.

Also, on the matter of the blogs site, there's several actions we could take on this front. The easiest one by far would be to install a mobile site plugin for all blogs to use on a blog-by-blog basis. However, there's always the option of custom designed themes with native mobile support.

Finally, on the wiki, I concur with Hoikas. 99.999% of people using it will be doing so from a PC, Mac, or Linux machine, which thus makes the need for change there negligible at best. However, MediaWiki does have a mobile plugin that could be implemented if a real need ever arises.
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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by D'Lanor » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:24 pm

There is no need to redesign when you use the Tapatalk MOD to add mobile support. At the GoMa forum it took only 5 minutes to install it, and another 5 minutes to register and activate the forum on the Tapatalk website.

The only thing I'm not entirely happy about is having to depend on an external service. I prefer MODs that work out of the box without requiring a remote activation.

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Re: Support for Mobile Devices

Post by Hoikas » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:00 pm

D'Lanor wrote:The only thing I'm not entirely happy about is having to depend on an external service. I prefer MODs that work out of the box without requiring a remote activation.
I do too, but it makes sense given that Tapatalk maintains their own directory.
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