Mobile Web Development in Japan: A Tag Soup Tale

Mr Andreas Bovens
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Technologies as (X)HTML, CSS, ECMAscript and the DOM - "web standards", in short - are the buzzwords among web developers nowadays. Created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and originally only deployed on a handful of sites, web standards are fast becoming the preferred way for putting content online. The benefits are said to be numerous: pages are lighter and load faster, coding and maintaining a site is less time consuming, search engines can index pages more accurately and disabled users have the advantage of improved accessibility. Additionally, there is the promise of forward compatibility - designs that adhere to web standards are supposed to render on any exotic or even future browsing device, PDA and cellphone browsers being a good example.

One should expect that Japan, with its high penetration rate of advanced mobile handsets, has found the way to standards compliant web design long before anyone else. The reality is different though. Most Japanese websites consist of non-standard markup and are designed with a handful of desktop based browsers in mind - to cellphone users, three flavors of so called "mobile versions" are served, each targeting a different group of mobile browsers. Needless to say, this is a completely different picture than the one-serves-all logic behind web standards.

In this paper, I take a close look at current web design practices in Japan, with special attention for mobile web development. Furthermore, I argue that standards based web design is capable of fully replacing the "tag soup" that currently reigns the Japanese (mobile) web.

Keywords: Web Development, Handheld, Mobile, Web Standards, Japan
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Mobile Web Development in Japan

Mr Andreas Bovens

Ph.D. Candidate, Japanese Studies section, Department of Oriental Studies, Faculty of Arts, Catholic University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven)

Ref: T05P0114