Browsing the Web with a small mobile phone may sound absurd at first. The increasing importance of the Internet means, however, that a person should be able to access Web services even when not sitting in front of a computer. Since there are approximately three times more mobile phones than computers in the world, a mobile phone may provide the only way to access the Web for many people.
Technically, it has been possible to access the Internet on a mobile phone for several years already, but the mobile browsing experience has often been cumbersome for ordinary people. Understanding the user needs in different use contexts is the key to improving the user experience and thereby popularising device independent access to Internet.
In her dissertation research, Virpi Roto has interviewed users of mobile browsers in several countries, and identified characteristics that help improve the mobile browsing user experience if taken into consideration. In addition to user and use context, all the system components should be taken into account: device, browser, network infrastructure, and web site. A partial outcome of the research is a visualisation method called Minimap, which has gathered publicity as the first practical way to view Web pages on a mobile phone. The method has been used in Nokia S60 phones since 2006.
The dissertation was presented for public examination and debate at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Helsinki University on 8 December 2006.