11 Mobile Web Annoyances (And How to Fix Them)

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Accidental Tapping

The harsh reality of touch screens is that the actions of clicking and scrolling require contact from a finger. You're bound to mess up on occasion, clicking a link when you meant to drag, and vice versa.

The Fix: Not a fix, per se, but you can train yourself to avoid accidental tapping by always laying down a finger with a slight bit of motion, so it's not registered as a click instead. And try to tend more toward long, deliberate scrolling instead of quick flicks, which could register as taps.

This Site Isn't Appworthy

Dear Website I Visit Maybe Four Times a Year: I'm impressed you have a native iPhone or Android app. Now please stop getting in my face as I try to navigate your Website. I'm looking at you, Digg, Village Voice, and Yelp.

The Fix: Some sites, like the ones mentioned above, will stop advertising their mobile apps for good if you take a moment to click the "close" button where the message appears. Otherwise, you could show disapproval by going to a competing service or Website, but if you switch to Google Places over Yelp simply out of spite, you've got a pretty big chip on your shoulder.

Picking Up Where You Left Off

During the day, my computer browser becomes an organized mess of tabs and open windows. But once I go mobile, all those stories I wanted to read or Websites I needed to reference are gone, unless I e-mail them to myself.

The Fix: This one's easy. Just check out the Xmarks service, which lets you send all open tabs on a PC to your mobile devices. iPhone users can get the native app for $1--an Android version is supposedly in the works--but there's also a general phone site at mobile.xmarks.com.

A 'Get Adobe Flash Player' notice on a mobile Website.
The Flash Problem

Missing Flash support won't always be a problem for all phones, but with the exception of Android phones running the new Froyo mobile OS, most phones can reliably annoy their owners by displaying Websites filled with empty Flash boxes. Subannoyance: Why doesn't YouTube's mobile site let you watch full television episodes as you can on a desktop browser? I fret that it's because some Hollywood executive doesn't like the idea of me watching full episodes of Star Trek on YouTube from the road.

The Fix: "Get an Android phone" is admittedly not the best answer--well, it is if you think of phones as political factions. Meanwhile, iPhone owners can try a workaround and turn to LogMeIn Ignition ($30 in the iPhone App Store) to feed content from their own PCs, including Flash. Another workaround is to use the iPhone app called Cloud Browse (free, but with a premium version for faster speeds), which opens a Flash-enabled browser on the app's own server.

Ghost of the Mobile Website

One thing I despise more than bad Websites on mobile phones is bad mobile Websites on your PC. Sometimes this can happen if someone links to a site's mobile version, and there's no redirect to take you back. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I feel helpless.

The Fix: With the benefit of a full Web browser, do a search within the Website's domain (for example, enter "site:domain.com 'the thing you're searching for'" in Google). That might get you back to the land of the living.

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