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We’ll Know the Mobile Web is Ready When…

By Jason Grigsby

Published on March 18th, 2011


A recent chat with Ethan Marcotte and Scott Jehl about how they’re handling switching between desktop and mobile views led to an epiphany about mobile web and our comfort with it.

We all agreed that when a mobile web site is well-designed and contains all of the functionality needed, the need to switch to the desktop site goes away.

However, as users of sites, we don’t like it when the link to the desktop version isn’t present. Providing a link to switch to the desktop view is a safety blanket for both developers and users.

As users, we don’t want to see others remove the link to switch to the desktop site because we don’t yet trust people to create mobile web experiences that contain everything we need.

As a developers, mobile is still new enough that we’re not 100% confident that we’ve thought of everything. In some cases, we know that there are aspects of a site that could not be converted to mobile for some insurmountable reason.

The existence of desktop toggle is good test for when our industry has really nailed mobile. When we collectively feel the toggles are unnecessary in most cases, then we’ll know that we as web practitioners have raised the collective knowledge and skill set sufficiently.

We’ll know the mobile web is ready when links to the desktop version disappear.


Brett Krasnove said:

Thanks for a thought-provoking post. Is desktop the real benchmark here or is it app-like functionality? The mobile web browser of the future (at least how I envision it) has the ability to use your device’s camera(s), bluetooth and GPS integrated into it, enabling you to create app-like experiences within a mobile web browser.

Russell Uresti said:

I agree that the trust factor just isn’t there yet. If you build out a good version of a mobile website, that has all the same content and functionality as the desktop version, there is no need for a link to the desktop version. However, users will most likely be more familiar with the desktop version of your site, so when they go to it on their phone, they don’t want to have to relearn where content is located or learn new functionality.

So maybe it’s not as much about confidence as it is familiarity. If we’re more familiar with the desktop version, we’ll want that, but if we’re more familiar with the mobile version, we’ll want to see that version.

Erik Larsson said:

I believe its us developers that leaves a link to the desktop version. We are completely certain that our solutions are 100%. We leave it as a failsafe.

Yesterday I managed to break the site, a mobile web I hold to high regards. Better safe than sorry.