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Recently I more and more often, access websites via my mobile, just to realize a certain feature has no (more) support on the mobile version of that site. So I request the desktop site (via browser functionality). But even then, as soon I click on any link, the URL changes to something like m.URL.TD or having somewhere in the URL a .TD/XXX/mobile/.... So my impression is, the sites providers actively want to deny desktop site access from mobile devices. Why is that so? Especially since most of the time, I am getting denied access to specific features I intend to use this way. And that way I feel often very dissapointed in regards of user experience not to say sometimes I get even mad about this logic, as I can't see, why a site wouldn't allow a user desktop access, where the user actively presses a button representing "Hey, I know my experience using this site as desktop version despite being on a mobile device might give me a bad experience." So the experience of being denied getting that explicit requested desktop site is (at least for me) even worse.

Ideas I have come up with, why this could be done:

  • The site has an App, and wants to enforce the user to use the App instead.

    • But not all sites I noticed this recently have even an App.
    • Also, I wonder, is it that important, that their App is being used that they risk users stop using their service at all?
  • I.e. my bank denies it. But as soon you request a desktop site you get an information that continuing in desktop mode from mobile device is not supported by them, due to security risks. But you can just ignore that info and you remain on the desktop site. I am fine with that.

So given the above bullet points, I don't really can see that this justify taking away the users agency.

So what am I missing? Or what other reasons are there that I notice this behavior recently more and more often?

  • You should see how fun it is when somehow those websites think that your desktop is a mobile and forces the mobile version on your monitor. – Zasul Mar 21 at 13:40
  • @Zasul thats what I had in mind about it, too. As that would even invalidate the app justification. I just tried to avoid bloatin up the OP – Zaibis Mar 21 at 14:40
  • FYI Chrome on Android has a menu option "request desktop site" - I guess it sends a different user agent or something but haven't really tested it myself – Jan Dorniak May 9 at 21:04
  • @JanDorniak: Well, I know. My whole post is based on that feature. My post wouldn't even make any sense if I hadn't known about that feature. – Zaibis May 10 at 6:01
  • @Zaibis I read your post not as if it meant a browser switch but rather a button/manual change of address/something else. Not knowing the feature I thought it works more on the browser end, not website – Jan Dorniak May 10 at 7:04
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There are multiple methods to detect browser and platform. The simplest to use, and easiest to spoof, is the user-agent. This is likely what the "request desktop site" feature of mobile browsers uses. However, there are more involved methods that check browser characteristics via javascript or other means. These are the methods your bank uses when you are notified "that continuing in desktop mode from mobile device is not supported". Often, the block is entirely gratuitous. There is no security or compatibility issue.

The more complicated the detection method, the more likely it is that someone really doesn't want you to access the desktop site from your mobile device. The additional effort required to block your access cannot be passed off as some innocent oversight.

While the behavior you describe may be caused by some commonly used scripts or toolkits (as Mart suggests), I still suspect the behavior is intentional because of the effort required to implement it. Whose intention and why? I don't know. Money is probably involved somehow, and scripts with anti-UX behaviors have a long history with no foreseeable end.

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It's probably that they didn't finish adapting their desktop site to mobile or haven't found how to downsize for a mobile phone. I don't think it's their objective to reject mobile users. It's definitely bad UX.

Your argument about them wanting a native app to be used is valid. It is appealing to them to (at least try to) get more personal info by accessing your geolocation, contacts list or social media accounts. Some of that is possible in a web page but definitely more can be obtained from a native app. Security and encryption level can also be higher in a native app.

For most other websites, they know they're making users angry but haven't the resources or time to deal with it. Such a behaviour is badly rated by Google and websites will deal with it sooner than later.

  • Given the effort required to block access despite the user's "request desktop site", blocking access to the desktop site from mobile cannot be passed off as some innocent oversight or lack of "resources". – 習約塔 May 9 at 23:03
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    Whose "Request desktop site" are you using? If it's from your mobile browser, it's just a trick (changing the declared User Agent of the request) to fool the server and that can fail. It can also be that there is a client side JavaScript that detects your screen resolution and does a redirect. I still don't think they want to prevent you from using the desktop version. It's someone that saw how tiny it rendered and decided to use the mobile version instead. – Mart May 9 at 23:14
  • OP is accessing sites from mobile, so likely using "request desktop site" in the mobile browser. I agree it changes the user agent. OP is complaining that sites are still delivering the mobile site despite the UA change. That implies additional effort by the developer to detect the browser/platform, not lack of effort/resources. – 習約塔 May 9 at 23:20
  • Yep, @xiota s interpretation here is correct. Especially, I am talking about some sites, that were working just well with the "request desktop site" feature in the past are now not doing this anymore. So either something on my system changed, that might be, admited. Or the sites actively changed something to block this behavior which just worked fine in the past. – Zaibis May 10 at 6:05
  • Specifically on the number of such websites increasing, it can be that they are starting to include some scripts having that side effect they don't control, like European's GDPR legislation or trying to comply to some Google's webmaster rule that a desktop site shouldn't display on a mobile. My point is the question is relevant (but is that increase a feeling or an actual stat?) and because I can't imagine why a company knowingly makes their user experience worse, I rather think it's an unfortunate consequence. Could we look at actual examples? – Mart May 10 at 6:23

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