04/10  Luca Passani's "The Least Common Denominator is bad for the mobile web"

Category: WAP and XHTML    By editor at 22:47
From Luca Passani's Global Authoring Practices for the Mobile Web
Least Common Denominator (LCD) is the coding style that authors need to resort to when adaptation is not a possibility for any reason. In those cases, any HTTP client which requests the document will receive the same HTTP headers, the same mark-up and the same pictures in terms of size and format.

While LCD is the most widely adopted approach for the creation of internet web sites, device fragmentation prevents LCD from being equally effective on the mobile web. Choosing a default experience that does not take device features into consideration is bound to deliver a poor user experience on most devices.
We couldn't agree more.

PS: If you just want to have a nice mobile version without getting deep into mobile rendering, you definitely should try out: feed2mobile. It only needs an RSS-feed to get your own mobile version and a personal QR Code too.


Leonard low - leonard.low [at] cit.act.edu.au - http://mlearning.edublogs.org
2006-10-05 02:43:37

Very interesting post! As part of my research into standards for enabling m-learning, I am particularly interested in best practice standards for the mobile web. W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices document also advocates "exploiting device capabilities," and not opting for an LCD approach.

The focus seems to be on "graceful degradation" - creating content that makes use of a device's potential, while still rendering correctly (albeit with fewer bells and whistles) on less capable devices.

Though I personally design with graceful degradation principles, I have some concerns about non-technical content creators' (read; teachers) ability to develop and deploy gracefully degrading content. I've posted more of my thoughts here: http://mlearning.edublogs.org/2006/10/05/least-lowest-common-denominator-is-bad-2/ -
would appreciate your insights or ideas on how ordinary people can create gracefully degrading content that exploits device capabilities!


2006-10-06 00:12:36

Dear Leonard, find my answer on your blog.

Leonard Low - leonard.low [at] cit.act.edu.au - http://mlearning.edublogs.org
2006-10-06 02:38:59

Thank you Roger - I really appreciate your ideas and expreience!

I think there are some differences between mobile phones and cameras, but I've found a lot of similarities, too, particularly if you rewind computer technology back 10 years or so... we were using VGA screens (like emerging PDAs of today), processors were under 700Mhz, hard drives were about 2GB, and internet bandwidth was rare and expensive (at least here in Australia!). There were about twenty different browsers, including NCSA Mosaic, Opera, Compuserve, Navigator and IE, and Macs and PCs rendered web pages very differently; hardware configuration could also affect content rendering.

When I started out in web development, developing content with graceful degradation principles in mind was essential; but we also limited bells and whistles like Flash/Java and tended to optimise all of our templates in a text editor to make them as streamlined and minimalist as possible. While we definitely didn't go as far as Jakob Nielsen in this regard, there was a measure of considering LCDs or "baselines" and trying to develop and test pages to render across the widest possible range of hardware and software configurations.

I'm really interested in how things develop with regard to the mobile web... thank you for your fantastic blog, which is one I read every day to keep up with the latest in mobility - indeed, it was you who put me onto QR Codes, which I'm not actively promoting here in Australia. :)

Kind regards,

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