OK, so that’s not a research question or a title; it’s hardly even a topic; it’s a brain-dump of related topics. I’ll improve on it later. This is one of the things I’ve been pondering. Does it make any sense?
Adults with low reading levels can experience great difficulty in scanning complex webpages, knowing where to look and what to what to ignore, to find what they need. When rendered on a smartphone screen, the equivalent webpages generally feature a much simpler layout. So, do adults with limited literacy skills find it easier to access information on the mobile web?
If so, does mobile web technology offer a way of reducing the inequality between information haves and have-nots, or does it just create a new digital divide between those who can only access the mobile web and those who can benefit from a richer experience on devices with larger screens? I think many websites are developed under the assumption that a lot of people will sometimes use the desktop site and sometimes the mobile version and that the purpose of their visit is likely to be different when they’re on a different device, so some features are missing from the mobile version of some sites, or harder to find, depending on what the owners think they know about when, how and why people use the mobile site. So mobile web users don’t necessarily get the same or the full experience.
What are the implications of this – for supporting non-users of the Web to get online for the first time? for people supporting other adults to use the Web (do tutors, volunteers, other informal helpers realise there’s a difference, do they understand enough to offer appropriate advice/support)? maybe for web users in developing countries that lack the resources and infrastructure to have widespread access to broadband and computers and where many people rely on the mobile Web?