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Designing A Handheld Friendly Web Site

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Laptop/Handheld Computing in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.378.1 - 7.378.9



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Paper Authors

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Tim Baron

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Matt Batcha

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John Estell

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Adam Love

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Session 1620

Designing a Handheld-Friendly Web Site

John K. Estell, Tim Baron, Matt Batcha, Adam Love Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department Ohio Northern University


The handheld computer, or PDA (personal digital assistant), represents a new phase in educational technology that allows for a truly portable computational device in an affordable package. From its humble beginnings as an electronic data organizer, the PDA has evolved into a sophisticated computational and informational tool through the development of various third party application programs. Among the most popular applications is AvantGo, which allows for the deployment of web applications on handheld computers. By accessing the AvantGo server during a synchronization operation with an Internet-connected PC, entire web sites can be downloaded to the handheld, then viewed later through use of the free AvantGo client that is resident on the handheld.

Being able to literally carry a variety of web sites in one's pocket provides great educational opportunities that as a profession we have just begun to explore. However, the typical PDA provides only 4-bit grayscale resolution on a 160 x 160 pixel screen display. Given that a "properly designed" traditional web site involves a plethora of multicolored graphical images displayed in a window assumed to be at least 600 pixels high by 800 pixels wide, the browsing experience of such a site on a handheld is usually less than satisfying. In short, the development of handheld-friendly web sites requires a different operational paradigm than that used in traditional web site design.

This paper examines the lessons learned in the development and creation of a new web site for the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at Ohio Northern University in which the student design team responsible for implementing the design was charged with the task of establishing a site that is "handheld-friendly." We will examine the role that size limitations such as screen resolution, web channel memory allocation, and maximum allowable link depth have on the layout and organization of the web site. Attention will also be given as to how various aspects of the AvantGo client implementation, such as JavaScript, HTML support, and forms, affect web site design. The methodology developed by the design team for creating an acceptable web site suitable for both PDA and desktop viewing will be presented along with general advise and comments suitable for those who wish to undertake the development of a handheld-friendly web site on their own.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Baron, T., & Batcha, M., & Estell, J., & Love, A. (2002, June), Designing A Handheld Friendly Web Site Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11070

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