I covered Friendster’s first mobile site back in December. I wasn’t impressed. I was never able to get it to work on the phone I was using at the time. Plus it required each user to install a widget on their Friendster profile using a PC browser before they could even use the mobile site. Well, it looks like Friendster went back to the drawing board and came up with a completely new mobile site at a new URL, m.friendster.com. The old friendstertogo.com url redirects to the new one.
The best thing about the new site is that it just “works”. No issues, nice small page size for quick loading on slow networks and low end phones including the Motorola i855 that wouldn’t work with the old site.
The feature set for Friendster Mobile is comparable to the mobile editions of other PC based social networks like MySpace or Facebook, which is to say it’s pretty limited. Users can read messages send messages, change their shoutout, search users by name or email, post to their bulletin board and view their own and friend’s photos and profiles. What they can’t do on the mobile site is edit their profiles, upload photos, explore public photos or profiles or vist the Friendster forums. Friendster Mobile is a subset of the full Friendster featureset that works well on low end phones. Unfortunately Friendster redirects almost all mobile browsers to the mobile site, including Opera Mini and other “full web” mobile browsers. This happens to Opera Mini users even if they enter the address of the full version, www.friendster.com. Annoyed users have been complaining about this on the Opera Mini forums. They have been accessing Friendster ‘s main site for years with Opera Mini and don’t like being forced to use the limited mobile site. There’s an important mobile usability lesson here. While it’s good to automatically redirect mobile browsers from your site’s canonical URL to a mobile friendly version, there also needs to be a way for users to get the full version of the site on their phones. It’s not hard to do, just provide a link that bypasses browser detection to reach the full version. For example, If you go to Wapreview.com/blog with a phone, you will be redirected to wapreview.mobi but at the bottom of that page there’s a Full Site link that points to pc.wapreview.com, which should always bring up the full site regardless of which device you are using.