Uncle Sam Wants You (to Optimize Your Content for Mobile)

by Karen McGrane

8 Reader Comments

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  1. Not sure if I’d agree.  When I travel, I still see flip cells being used in greater proportion to Smart or iPhones.  The age group I see struggle with Smart or iPhones is 50+.  Is the government going to step in to regulate data control, which the major carries seemingly have price fixed?  We can speculate what any government entity wants, but until the U.S. is able to increase it’s broad band beyond 4G along with it’s coverage the ideas is just that.

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  2. “Nearly everyone is carrying smart devices in their pockets that have incredible computing power.”

    Yes, many people do have smart phones and the trends are clear. But “nearly everyone” seems overly optimistic. Moreover, the data plan costs are well out of the budgets of many folks.

    We need hard data, not forecasts. We especially need cost data. There is little competition in most markets for wireless bandwidth, or even for wired broadband.

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  3. That quote from Federal CIO Van Roekel didn’t include any data, but there’s lots of data in this article from Pew Internet about cell phone and smartphone adoption:
    http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Internet-Use-2012/Main-Findings/Cell-Internet-Use.aspx

    You’re right that this article doesn’t discuss the cost scenarios. I agree that the cost of a data plan or broadband plan is out of reach for many people, but if they can afford one, they’re likely to choose the phone. For example, this anecdote about homeless teens and smartphone use:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/428043/there-is-no-digital-divide/

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  4. Good points that mobile users aren’t just growing overall, but at a higher rate among different demographics. Glad to see the government is getting out front on at least one part of mobile strategy.

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  5. I’m not sold on this concept that we have to make all content available on mobile just because some users don’t have desktops.

    It’s true that large swathes of the population don’t have desktop broadband, but that’s not for want of access. There is no law preventing certain groups from buying second hand computers and signing up to broadband. Nor are the economic constraints convincing – computers are not substantially more expensive or hard to obtain than 4G-equipped smartphones. So it’s a big assumption to say that mobile-only users want desktop content in the first place.

    That’s not to say we should create arbitrary barriers. We should provide access to the content, certainly. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the notion of mobile-specific workflows and interactions, just because we assume mobile-only users don’t know what they’re missing on desktop.

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  6. I was looking over another article about RWD (responsive web design).    After reading the article I was swayed that RWD may actually be a very good thing.    I however would like to see a standardized option to view the site in the desktop version.  I have been to many sites while out and around which force the smallest form factor on you.  I think it is a dis-service to the end user when there is no accesible option to view the site normally.

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  7. Fantastic article, very convincing. Also agree with Dwayne. I think people have the wrong idea of how to go about optimising for mobile – yes I now browse on my smartphone (or tablet) more than either my laptop or desktop (I fall into the laziness category), but I also more often than not tick “Request desktop site” in Chrome because frankly mobile ‘optimised’ sites are almost always cut down and missing important features. If web sites were made properly in the first place they’d be fine on smartphones with little to no optimisation. My favourite pet peave case in point is drop down menus, if I can’t hover on my smartphone they should be ‘optimised’ away, but actually they’re pretty annoying on a desktop site so why use them in the first place?! Clearly not to save space because you can cope without them on the mobile optimised site! I promise I’m trying but I can’t think of a single feature that works on a desktop but becomes troublesome on a mobile that couldn’t just be dropped entirely to the benefit of all.

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  8. Karen, from looking at the source data, I think that your Americans without high school diplomas who lack broadband should be 78% rather than 88%.

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