Mobile Phone Internet Browsing
The popularity of mobile browsing varies between countries. In South Korea and Japan, the mobile browser is widely used for mobile specific services. In Europe, the popularity of WAP services is increasing all the time, but they still are not in everyman's use. In the U.S., mobile phones are not used for browsing, but people access the full Web with PDA browsers.
The mobile browsing usability consists of several layers but the user cannot distinguish which layer causes a usability problem. For the end user, mobile browsing is a holistic experience, and all layers should work seamlessly in order to be usable.
Designing a mobile browser for a small screen and with limited input mechanisms is a challenging task.
Because most devices are used in various countries, it is important to understand the different mobile browsing cultures and the earlier mobile browsing experience of different target user groups.
When designing services for mobile use, one needs to know which content is relevant to be used on the move, and the principles for a good site structure and user interface. Both content and browser developers should understand the nature of mobile context and user needs in mobile situation. They should also be able to test their product in a mobile context, which is much more laborious than doing it in the lab. It is important to realize which features can be tested in the lab, and which in the mobile context. Services optimized for mobile use require content developers to identify the services that people would use on handheld devices while on the move. The reason for using the Web is simply that people know Web addresses that they use on the PC, but do not know the addresses of corresponding mobile sites. Special information visualization methods are needed when showing large Web pages on small screens to solve the keyhole view problem. The current state of the art Web browsers on mobile phones use a special narrow layout as the default viewing mode.
Also the order of the content in the narrow layout causes difficulties for end users. It is hard to foresee at which point of the long tube the wanted information is located, so one constantly needs to spot some keywords or items in the content on the screen while scrolling. This means the scrolling cannot be too fast.
Because of the severe usability problems of the narrow layout, the narrow layout browsers also provide a mode where the page is shown in the original designed layout, very similar to that on the PC. The original layout is not problem-free, as you can imagine. The worst problem is that reading wide text columns is all too laborious, if the user has to scroll back and forth each line.
It is clear that improvements and inventions are needed to make Web pages easily viewable on the small screens of mobile phones. Avoid large objects that need to be visible at one glance, avoid using small text in images and keep the pages light.