Blog update from the elves: Handheld users please chime in

We expect it will be a much quieter week in terms of blog information from us elves. One important question remains: making sure the blog is readable for hand-held users. If you read T19 via handheld (Blackberry, etc.) please read the following and chime in with your comments.

This elf has a busy week ahead for her “real” job, and doesn’t expect to fiddle too much with TitusOneNine design or features for a few days. We’ve still got a number of things on our ToDo list, but nothing to our knowledge that urgently affects blog design and readability or features for most readers using laptops or desktops.

We have, however, received several comments from handheld users that the current design is not working well for handheld access. Before we make any major changes, it would help us to ask some questions of those who read the blog via handheld device:

1) Please describe whatever difficulties you are currently having. What we are hearing at the moment is that there is too much text and that perhaps we should reduce the number of entries on the main page. (Currently set to 50 entries. On the old blog it was usually set at 20).

2) Does using the calendar to view a day’s entries solve your problem? Usually there will be no more than 20 entries per day on a given date, so using the calendar would be similar to the amount of text that used to appear per page on the old blog.

Try viewing all the entries for June 10 and let us know how that works.

3) We’ve also heard that the sidebar may be a problem for handheld users, since it displays first and it is a lot of info to scroll through. The “Print-Friendly” format we’ve set up may help as it will display articles without the sidebar. Please try the links below and let us know if they work for you.

To view all the articles on the main page in print-friendly format WITHOUT comments:

(Currently the print-friendly WITH comments format does not work for viewing more than one article at a time. We can try to work on that.)

NOTE: You can also view a single day’s entries in print-friendly format without the sidebar by inserting the word “print” in the daily archive link between “t19” and the given date. Example:

The normal daily archive view for June 11 uses this link:
The link for the Print Friendly view for June 11:

(note: we’ve removed the intial http://www. in the link above so it would display the rest of the link properly with bolding of the word “print”)

Please try out these options and let us know if they make reading the blog via handheld easier. If there are still problems, we’ll be glad to try something different.

Note: We’ve now added a link in the “printer-friendly” view that makes it easy to get to the comments for each article so those reading all entries in print-friendly mode can leave a comment on articles of interest. Let us know if this works ok. Obviously the print-friendly view was originally designed for printing, not for commenting, and so it doesn’t have a lot of blog-navigation links.


Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

10 comments on “Blog update from the elves: Handheld users please chime in

  1. fatherlee says:

    The issue is really that the right hand column winds up pushing the text to the left side. I’m on a smartphone, and it would just be great to have a “mobile-friendly” page with just the article titles. I’m guessing that all of the content is rather dynamic.

    There are also ways to do this using RSS.

    But, it would be great to have a text-only page for mobile users with simply the article titles linked to text-only versions of the articles. I don’t even think we would need the ability to post.

  2. The_Elves says:

    Fatherlee, while I imagine we could create a separate mobile template (and associated URL) with just the current “headlines” and links to the full articles, isn’t that what an RSS feed already does?

    Forgive me, if I’m asking a stupid question. I’ve never tried to read T19 or any other blog by a handheld device. So, I may be missing an important distinction. We do have RSS 2.0 and Atom feeds set up already for all articles, and have on our todo list a few category-specific RSS feeds (notably for Anglican news).


    For us, using Mozilla Firefox 2.0, the RSS feed gives the most recent headlines, and clicking on the headlines takes you to the full story.

  3. R. Eric Sawyer says:

    I also use a smart phone, Cingular 3125 sith windows mobile 5. smaller screen than a Blackberry, and only limited ability to enter text.
    I find the present layout acceptable, and very veiwable.
    I do get a little miffed about the sidebar dsplaying first, and needing to scroll through a lot, but all in all, it’s a minor issue. For my take, not even worth fixing.

  4. fatherlee says:

    The thing is that the only decent browser on WM5 is IE, which is a sad fact, but it’s true.

    With IE on WM, RSS shows up as the coded text, not a bunch of neat links. I was really thinking something like this:

    The old site just looked way better on the phone, but I’m in the minority – anyway – just a request.

  5. The_Elves says:

    Thanks for explaining fatherlee. The fact that you’re using Internet Explorer with its code-based RSS makes the situation much clearer and the link you sent looks helpful.

    And don’t fear you’re making work for us. It’s been a fun challenge to try and help Kendall with the blog design and we’re learning tons. And it was us, after all, who asked your opinion of what would enhance T19 and make it easier to read! So, keep the feedback coming.

  6. The_Elves says:

    Off topic, but since there’s no other current blog admin post, I’ll announce this here for now:

    While researching variables we might want to include in a T19_mobile template, we just figured out how to get the current comment total to display in the archives page.

    So now if you click on the June archives, for instance
    You’ll see the title and link for each article, the date it was posted, and the most recent comment total. We had tried this last week, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work. Now it does! Cool.

    (See, as we said, don’t feel badly for us overworked elves. At least this elf is only overworked because she finds this whole blog design process too much fun and very addictive! Of course elf_lady who slaves away faithfully moderating comments might have another tale to tell about being overworked and underappreciated 😉 )

  7. EmilyH says:

    I like the new design. I am on an old IPAQ 3955. I am using Windows Mobile 2003 with SD enabled and an Sandisk Connect card, WiFi 80211b to a Belkin access point. I very much like having the calendar location where it is, but, like everone else, it takes time screen through all the sidebar stuff that. But it’s not that big of an inconvenience. The site loads really fast. Thanks for not including animation, pictures etc. that chew up my memory and take forever to load.

  8. Chip Johnson, cj says:

    Well, I am NOT on a blackberry or any other handheld device (even tho’ my cell phone is net ready, I don’t use it that way); but, I am on an old VGA lo-res monitor and the ‘printer friendly’ option is great for me. I seldom use the calendar or the sidebar links; but know how to get there if I choose. Thanks!

  9. BabyBlue says:

    Worked great today on my Samsung MM-A920 (Sprint PowerVision). Thank you!!!


  10. The_Elves says:

    Thanks all for the feedback. Based on what I’m hearing so far, I won’t plan on any major changes to the main design. But, I will see if we can get a mobile template set up for this week for those who want a quick “feed-like” way of viewing headlines and links and perhaps short excerpts. (I’m not sure if the excerpts are possible, but I’ll try.)

    In the meantime, I’ve put a link to view all the articles on the main page in print-friendly format on the side bar. It’s the first thing now in the Blog Tips & Info section of the sidebar.