The travellers' internet: Designing applications for those on the move - part three
I also found Google's Gmail login to be inefficient on my travels - or maybe it was my inability to adapt to the quirk that was the inefficiency. Pretty much the same scene unfolded in internet cafes across the continent. My wife and I would be sharing a computer, and the first thing we would do is check Gmail, where she has her primary mail account, and where all my currybet.net mail was being forwarded to.
I'd open up the only browser available - Internet Explorer 6 - type http://www.google.com/gmail into the browser address bar, and wait for the page to load sufficiently that the focus was in the "username" entry field of the form.
I would start typing "martin" and at some point between typing the 'r' and the 't' of martin my wife would observe "You've done it again". I'd look up and see that I'd ended up typing 'tin.belam@' into the password field.
Of course, over these posts I've mostly griped about things that niggled me in the applications I frequently use. I must say that one of the most revelatory things on my journey was how much the internet has revolutionised so many areas of life and commerce. I was astonished by how on the whole we were effortlessly able to book transport and accommodation across Europe, often at the last minute, just by sitting in an internet cafe in advance. It was only really the stretch of travelling from Belgrade to Dubrovnik via Sarajevo and Mostar where we had to physically go to bus stations to find out about departure and arrival times - everywhere else we were able to use the internet. In places like Germany we were even able to buy train tickets and print them out in advance.
Tourism is a thriving service industry in the developed world, and the World Tourism Organisation claims that 25% of tourism is by the under-25s seeking budget accommodation. So, what can businesses do to ensure that their product works well for this attractive demographic of travelling people?
I think the principle recommendations to businesses specifically targeting travellers would be:
- Use standards compliant code, and ensure you test not just the appearance of a site across browsers, but the functionality of the site as well.
- Consider offering a 'lite' version of your stylesheet that would give the traveller the option of speeding up their browsing experience. Delivering a rich multimedia interface may not be suitable for travelling users in an internet cafe who want simply to get access to a web service as quickly (and therefore as cheaply) as possible.