While this is not a book about design, understanding some architectural and usability concepts is critical to creating useful mobile services. Many common desktop web design patterns and usability concepts do not apply in a mobile environment.
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When creating mobile web applications, we need to remember that we can create browser-based apps, full-screen webapps or native web apps. All the types have architecture rules in common and some practices that are useful only for one type.
My first good advice is: “be responsible”. Don’t discriminate your users just because they don’t have the mobile browser or device that you like. I’ve seen plenty of websites (even from big companies) showing messages like: “you can only browse this site with iOS” or providing a good experience only for WebKit-based browser. If you browse that websites with modern non-WebKit browsers, such as IE10, Firefox or Opera you get an awful and old website, even non-touch optimized when browsing with touch devices.
We know that with mobile web we can create full-screen webapps and native apps. The answer about when to get out of the browser depends on your case.
With full-screen webapps you can gain more space and an icon in the home screen or applications menu of the device. With that idea, the user will remember ...