6

So I am redirecting mobile users to mobile version of the page and also have alternate attrubute set up for that:

<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://m.site.com/" >

What about the opposite case? When user from desktop computer visits mobile version of the page. Should I redirect him back to desktop version?

14

Mobile to desktop version should be a choice the user initiates. Sometimes the user may want the mobile version due to:

1) A focused and less cluttered experience

2) Faster browsing for low-bandwidth users (e.g. laptop with a 3G connection)

3) Ability to fit on a small screen

Whatever the reason, I don't think deciding for your users is right. Let the user choose. Personally, I like how Chrome iOS gives you the option to visit the desktop site if you want.

  • 7
    Also relevant: There is no 100% accurate way to tell desktop and mobile users apart. When your detection script fails, the user should be able to correct the mistake. – Philipp Sep 11 '14 at 13:53
  • 1
    Also some small form factor "desktops" (in that they use a desktop browser and larger screen) don't have certain plug-ins, so for some content it is necessary to go the the mobile site on platforms like this. – Mateo Sep 11 '14 at 14:45
  • @Mateo True. With Java and Flash causing so many exploits, I wonder if more workstations run without Java and Flash. – Sun Sep 11 '14 at 17:22
  • @Philipp While Apple did not invent the phablet with their iPhone 6 Plus, it does blur the line between mobile and desktop even more. No amount of programming can figure what kind of experience the user wants all the time. – Sun Sep 11 '14 at 17:22
4

Let the user choose.

Few things are more frustrating than being forced to use a lacking mobile site. Consider allowing desktop users to choose mobile as well -- perhaps they're tethering their laptop to their unrooted iPhone and would appreciate the low-bandwidth alternative for their limited data quota.

I think you will find the first problem case regarding redirection to desktop from mobile immediately while developing for the mobile version from your laptop: being redirected from the site you're working on will certainly make it difficult to work on!

3

I don't see why not. The question here is whether you think it will benefit your users or not. Personally speaking, I find it a tad bit annoying whenever I'm brought to the mobile version of a website, even though I'm using a desktop computer. Do note that you should create some sort of URL fragment that can be used whenever you do not want to be redirected (this GET variable should set a cookie that prevents redirects in the future. Useful for debugging and for allowing desktop users to avail of your mobile site).

Alternatively, you could make sure that your mobile site is responsive and that it provides an option for the user to return to the desktop version of your site. If you look at Wikipedia's mobile site, you'll see that the page width expands and that there is a link to the desktop version in the footer.

PS: Redirecting based on User Agents isn't foolproof and you might run the risk of constantly redirecting mobile users to your desktop website. Make sure that you're OK with this before you implement such a redirect.

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