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Mobile transcoders – evil or not?


I read once someone saying that mobile transcoders are the most evil thing. Indeed, but if you refer to the general ones, like the ones put in place by the GSM providers, e.g. Vodafone in UK. To be frankly that someone was also continuing with the fact that the GSM providers don’t know what they’re doing.
Previously I wrote an article about how can you expand your online presence into the mobile world. Taking into account that you will use the transcoding option, I will give you some tips about.

  • Transcode content, not layout. You should focus on transcoding content, not layout. I think this is the biggest problem on general transcoders, they try to transform a layout into another one. It is understandable, because they don’t have any knowledge about the content. I’m not talking here about implementing a neural network, but you should at least have some high level knowledge about the pages.
  • Use a mobile template. Build a mobile optimized template and then move the content from the classic online website into it. You can, of course, do this either statically or dynamically
  • Transcode images. Don’t forget about images. An image that looks just great on the desktop, could not even be rendering on the mobile devices. Most mobile devices can only display images up to a certain resolution. Also bandwidth is a concern there, don’t make your visitors pay too much for just visiting your site. I also explained this in detail here
  • Strip out the non-mobile content. If a part of your site is dedicated to download Windows/Linux/Mac software, don’t even bother to transcode it. Remove even the links to that part of the site. I cannot even think to a scenario where somebody will download an application on his mobile phone so that he can install it later on his laptop. The other way around, very likely.
  • Optimize the pages for different set of devices. If you target mobile users, take into account that the number of devices is huge and their capabilities quite different. Here, CSS will do just fine. But don’t fall into the other extreme and create a CSS for every device, it will be a nightmare to maintain it
  • JavaScript – don’t even think about it. You can even strip it out entirely during the transcoding process. Act as the browser has this disabled by default. On the other hand, you can improve the user experience on some high end devices with JS, but NOSCRIPT alternative is a MUST.
  • Flash, Applets etc – forget about them. Simply remove them while transcoding. They will be a total waste of bandwidth. There are very few devices able to render Flash, actually FlashLite, and they’re not so popular.
  • Table transcoding. If you have to transcode tables, I totally understand your headache. Still, choose one strategy (row-by-row or column-by-column) and do your magic. Row-by-row is easier to implement and I would recommend to transform every TR into a P or DIV and the TD into a SPAN. But this is far from being a rule. You can choose different strategies for different types of tables, if it better suits your needs.
  • Meta data. Remember to propagate them too. But only those that makes sense and with appropriate values.

This will be all for the moment, but the list remains open.

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  1. RobD
    October 6, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please🙂

  2. October 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Just add https://beradrian.wordpress.com/feed/ to your RSS reader.

  1. September 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

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