We won't lie to you. Nobody at Newsvine Headquarters uses "the mobile web" very much. We're in front of our computers so much that the temptation to connect on our mobile phones for anything other than driving directions is low. That said, the Newsvine staff is not necessarily representative of the rest of the world.
With these thoughts in mind, Eric Glomstad (a.k.a. "The Newsvine Intern") has spent the past several weeks crafting a shiny new, compact version of Newsvine fit for display on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes. The file sizes are tiny, the graphics are sparse, and the navigation has been reduced to the bare essentials necessary for a quick browse around the Vine. You can read articles, visit your column, or catch up on comment threads on your way to work (after which you will spend the rest of the day on Newsvine proper, wasting away your company's money engaging in political arguments and DVD-key debates).
As part of Newsvine Mobile's development process, we had to make a few important decisions about where it should live and how we should take people there. Many people advocate using mobile stylesheets to shape the original content into a more mobile-friendly form but there are serious compatibility and speed issues with this approach. Others advocate server-side detection to automatically serve up lighter content to mobile devices (using something like WURFL). We like the server-side route and may move to it eventually but it's a bit CPU-intensive and doesn't handle all devices properly.
As a compromise between these two approaches, we've elected to run Newsvine Mobile at our new .mobi domain, newsvine.mobi, and redirect devices there as gracefully as we can from the main newsvine.com domain. Visiting newsvine.mobi from your mobile device (or even a standard web browser) will take you directly there while visiting newsvine.com on a mobile device should do one of two things:
- Automatically redirect you to newsvine.mobi.
- Display a link at the top of the screen which will take you to newsvine.mobi.
.Mobi domains are fairly new and haven't really caught on yet but we're trying this approach because of the following advantages:
- Our URL structures stay the same, so mike.newsvine.com essentially equals mike.newsvine.mobi.
- Once you're at the mobile site, we don't need to check if you're an actual mobile user on every subsequent page load.
- Most importantly, it allows us to provide a special site designed specifically for mobile devices instead of taking existing code and hacking it down until it's plausibly usable on small screens.
So if you use the web on your mobile phone at all, check out Newsvine Mobile and let us know what you think.
On another note, Eric's tenure at Newsvine ended this week after a fruitful several months with us. We thank Eric for all of his hard work here and are also pleased to announce that he accepted a full-time position at a great company in Seattle so he's well taken care of! We wish Eric the best of luck at his new gig and will be bringing in the next Newsvine intern in exactly 11 days. Get ready to get your hazing on.