RE: Toys for Techies - combo PDA/cell phone

Subject: RE: Toys for Techies - combo PDA/cell phone
From: Dan Hall <Dan -at- cooper -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 08:09:15 -0800

The debate continues over where web design should fall on the
compatibility/richness scale. This isn't an issue that is going to go away,
as the divide between what's cutting edge and what's old but still usable
continue to grow. But I think I'll throw something else into the mix, just
to add to the confusion:

The web design issues like browser incompatibility and differing screen res.
between desktops has been discussed here (in infinite, gory detail). This
new thread has covered problems getting the right text/graphics mix between
desktops using HTML and PDAs using HDML or web clipping. Unmentioned so far
is the WAP format, which further complicates things.

Recently I worked on a design for a wireless/cell phone browsable
application. The point was to allow travelers to access their travel
information while on the go. However, the constraints of WAP really tie
things up in knots. Imagine trying to design a "good" user experience where
all the interactions must:
*be text only - with 12 monospaced characters per line, and a maximum of
four lines visible at any one time
*use limited commands - in most cases OK/Cancel and four "links" are the
only choices
*require limited text entry - it takes 24 key presses to enter Cincinnati
(Of course, it was easy to document the interaction!)

In the end, we can hope that a common standard prevails. As cell, wireless,
and PDA technology converge, there is some hope that this can come about.
The color/graphics capable new Pocket PC platform shows promise for
displaying "standard" HTML pages, and Bluetooth (however long it takes to
actually become a reality) can help address some of the device compatibility
issues. Form factor remains an issue - would you feel more comfortable
talking into your PDA or writing on your cell phone? Or is there a third

As the "first line" in usability, technical writers can help drive whatever
solution emerges toward a better user experience.

dan -at- cooper -dot- com

All opinions in this e-mail are solely mine, and
Cooper Interaction Design disavows all knowledge
of and responsibility for them.

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