End User Customization for the Mobile Web

Eyal de Lara

Google Tech Talk, Waterloo, Canada, December 2008



Today, most web pages are designed for viewing on desktop computers with access to large screens and broadband connections. On the other hand, mobile devices face severe resource constraints, such as limitations in display size, battery life and network connectivity. This result in a significant degradation in the experience of mobile users as they go about browsing the World Wide Web. I will describe PageTailor and Usage-awaRe Interactive Content Adaptation (URICA), two techniques that let end users customize web content to suit their needs. PageTailor lets the end user customize a web page graphically by clicking on page elements, such as images, as part of her normal browsing activities on the mobile device. PageTailor records the user's customizations and automatically reapplies them on subsequent visits to the same page or to other, similar pages, on the same Web site. URICA learns how to adapt content from feedback provided by users. When serving content to a mobile user, URICA first makes an initial prediction on how to customize the content. Next, URICA allows users who are unsatisfied with the system's adaptation decision to take control of the adaptation process and make changes until the content is suitably adapted for their purposes. For example, a user may choose to remove a toolbar to improve readability, or ask the system to improve the resolution of a specific image. The successful adaptation is recorded and used in making future adaptation decisions for other users.