One of the most painful things we did when developing Glassboard was ban ourselves from Wi-Fi for a week. I live in an area where cell coverage is really spotty, and using our app without a fast connection was eye-opening and humbling. I spent the next week rewriting huge chunks of the app so it would better handle poor (or non-existent) network connectivity.
If only all apps were as finely tuned for crappy connections. I’m not an app developer, but I can’t help but think this type of tuning applies to websites and blogs, including DisplayBlog. Right now I’m testing the feasibility of using an ancient but still capable ThinkPad X41 (Pentium M 1.5GHz, 1.5GB RAM, 4200RPM HDD) connected to a 3Mbps broadband pipe. The 12-inch 1024×768 notebook is connected to a just as ancient Sony 17-inch 1280×1024 LCD monitor, for a dual display workstation.
The X41 is fast enough to get all of my work done and slow enough to test whether or not DisplayBlog would be responsive for similarly spec’ed computers. Most sites come up within a reasonable amount of time, but it can take a while for image heavy sites to completely load. For instance The Verge took some time. Considering roughly 15% of DisplayBlog visitors connect using dialup its minimalist design should speed things up, though images piped via Flickr might slow things down a bit.
Maybe we can get to intelligent website and app designs that not only display content based on the device, but also connection state where a less reliable or slow connection would transmit content with minimal multimedia assets.