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Summary

Mobile platforms pose a unique problem for web designers, due to small screen sizes and (in some cases) limited support for browser-side scripting and advanced web technologies such as CSS. Many web sites ignore these limitations, making those sites difficult or even impossible to use from mobile platforms.

With Google Wireless Transcoder, Google has bridged the huge gap between the content of the majority of web sites and the abilities of mobile devices. GWT is usually used to help the Google Mobile Search display sensible results to mobile users. You can use the same application directly from your web page by redirecting visitors to a specially crafted URL.

To use GWT, your server-side script should perform the following tasks:

  • Identify mobile platforms using the Accept: or User-Agent: HTTP header.
  • Redirect WAP platforms straight to GWT, as they usually are incapable of displaying regular web pages in a sensible manner. (Just imagine having to scroll through a long web page that’s 1,000 pixels wide, using a 200 × 200-pixel screen.)
  • Give other mobile visitors the option of using the transcoder to view a mobile-optimized version of the same content.

Ideally, all pages on your web site should be mobile-friendly, but unless your site is well structured (for example, using a library common to all pages), such uniformity could be an enormous undertaking. In these cases, you should adapt only the home page and the major landing pages; visitors encountering these pages will use the transcoder from that point, as the transcoder modifies all links in the source document to point back to itself.

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