Facebook Blends Mobile Web Sites For Both Smart And Dumb Phones

Facebook Feature Phone

One of the more difficult balancing acts for large companies on the mobile Web is how to provide a compelling high-end experience for those who have taken the smartphone plunge while still providing something useful to those who remain in the feature phone camp. Facebook thinks it has found a way to serve both types of users without driving its developers crazy.

The company announced a new version of its mobile Web site Thursday that will make it easier for its development team to roll out new features while making sure users of high-end phones still have a nice touch-oriented experience and feature phones don’t melt trying to load the site. “Every time we launched a new feature, we had to build it multiple times across different code bases: once for facebook.com, then again for m.facebook.com, touch.facebook.com, and in native applications as well. Honestly, we weren’t very good at doing this, so certain features were missing on different devices,” Lee Byron, a product designer, wrote on a Facebook blog post Thursday.

Before today, feature phone users could access m.facebook.com to update their status and check in on friends, while those with more advanced phones could get more bells and whistles by going to touch.facebook.com. Truth be told, most people with high-end smartphones probably use native applications to access Facebook, but there’s still something to be said from Facebook’s point of view in keeping its mobile Web site as cutting-edge as possible.

Now everyone who wants to access Facebook through the Web should visit m.facebook.com. Users with touchscreen phones will be directed to a version of the site that caters to their needs, while those on more basic phones will be served something else. The site will be rolling out over the next few weeks, Facebook said.

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