SharePoint and Your Mobile Strategy: Be Sure to Have One!

These days, if you have a site running in SharePoint the odds of someone coming to it with a mobile device are increasing extremely rapidly. This is certainly true if you have an Internet-facing site, but also highly likely even for corporate Intranets.

For this post, I’m going to pick on my friends at the Boston Area SharePoint Users Group (BASPUG) and then I’m going to help them fix the problem.

If you go to the home page for BASPUG on an iPhone (and probably any device that declares itself as a mobile one), you get a very basic WAP-like view from SharePoint 2010.

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And scrolling down to the bottom of the screen:

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This is nothing like the actual home page of the site, with its useful and interactive content:


Even if I scroll down to the bottom of the mobile view on my iPhone, I can’t switch to the full view of the site. In case you don’t know, the iPhone runs Safari, which is a fully functional browser. The screen is just smaller and you need to pinch and zoom a bit to view full-sized Web sites. So I’d actually rather switch to the full site so that I can read what I know is there, but I can’t.

So my point here isn’t that the mobile view in SharePoint 2010 sucks. Sure, it’s probably not what you want out of the box, but the engine is there and it’s fixable. My point is that you have to have a mobile *strategy* for your SharePoint installation.

In many cases, the best strategy will be to just turn it off. The mobile view above doesn’t enhance my experience, it ruins it. That’s not the starting point that you want to have for your users. IMHO, it’s better for them to have to navigate the full site in a cumbersome way than to not be able to read anything useful.

So be sure to have a strategy for mobile, even if it is to admit that you don’t have one. Put it into your deployment plans so that you don’t forget about it later. Revisit it when you have to or have the time to deal with it after launch. But *don’t* forget about it.

In looking around for how to turn the mobile view off in SharePoint 2010, it was no surprise that I came upon a blog post from my pal Randy Drisgill, SharePoint branding guru, which explained it: SP2010 Branding Tip #6 – Mobile Browsers. You can edit the compat.browse file in

C:\inetpub\wwwroot\wss\VirtualDirectories\[Your Web App Here]\App_Browsers\compat.browse

to change the settings for specific browsers. Read @drisgill‘s post for the details.