Best Practice: Ensure that links provide a thematically coherent experience when accessed from a device other than the one on which they were captured.
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What does Thematic Consistency '''mean''' ?
Let's suppose I own example.com, and I'm selling ringtones to mobile users. Here are some situations that make sense:
- You use your mobile to go to example.com and the page offers to sell you ringtones, with the assistance of the operator through which you are making the request (for billing purposes).
- You use your mobile to go to mobile.example.com, and the situation is the same as per example.com.
Now let's suppose I have some fancy adaptation magic to hand (which, in my case, is actually true). You use your mobile to go to example.com, and nothing has changed. You go to mobile.example.com, and still nothing has changed. But now you use your desktop browser from the landline Internet to go to either of these and the result is quite different.
Instead of getting the mobile experience, you get something that tells you I *won't* (because I can't) sell you ringtones when you make requests via a desktop device.
An alternative response, when you arrive via desktop, is to present you with a system that sells ringtones by credit card, which are sent to the phone number that you enter.
From my business perspective, the various answers are consistent with the way I do business. The theme of my business is to offer ringtones to those who I see can accept ringtones and that I can bill with the aid of an operator. If I discover you are not mobile, I won't offer to sell you ringtones. In the second example above, there is a higher degree of thematic consistency, but that comes at the expense of setting up a second, alternative way of selling ring tones.
The response you give to the end user should make sense regardless of how they access the site, with a suggestion that if it is at all possible to offer the same kind of content, then you should do so.
There's no hard and fast rule for measuring what makes sense. There is no easy way to determine what is thematically consistent. And there's the overlooked issue of the fact that the theme itself might be contextual. For example, if I access desktop.example.com, then perhaps I will be offered screen savers for purchase, not ringtones. (Here, the theme of my business is to sell novelty distractions for users' devices, but perhaps you would not have known that unless I made it explicit.) So going to example.com might get you the mobile site, or the fixed site, depending on what I think you are.
In essence, the idea of thematic consistency is rather fuzzy. Thematic consistency means that the different experiences you might get should somehow make sense when seen collectively, but that some ways of accessing the content might not make sense (for a million reasons), and we shouldn't advocate doing anything that obviously doesn't make sense.