Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mobile Web Site Review: (Part 1)

One of my often-visited web sites is, a local news site that covers my community.

Instead of going the native app route, they created a mobile-optimized site that seems to be a template of some sort. For this review, I won't focus on the template or its CSS, but some content-driven tips that would make the site more user friendly. Hopefully to give them some free design suggestions and also give you some things to consider when designing a mobile-optimized web site.

Too Many Words: For a mobile site, word economy is key. Take the screen shot below:

Let's edit that stuff to make it mobile friendly: "News Articles" and "Blogs" for the title. "Full Site" for the bottom link. And shorten that note...

Add to your home screen: On iOS, tap the "Action" icon in the toolbar and select "Add to Home Screen." On Android, bookmark our site then add a bookmark shortcut to your home screen.

Even better, detect whether the device is iOS or Android and show just the instructions for that device.

Not Enough Words: Huh? Doesn't this go against everything I just said?

Not really. In the screen above, the latest comments have five or six words. That's not enough to get a sense of what the commenter is saying. It needs to be two or three lines of text at least so you have enough information to decide whether to read the full comment or not.

Also, since we know these are "Latest Comments" we can strip the words "Posted:" and "2012" from the detail line. If it were me, I'd add JavaScript so that if the date was today, it would just post the time or read like "1:01 AM today" to help decipher when the newest comments were posted.

Better Comments: Again, just some ideas to reduce scrolling. The title above could've easily renamed "193 Comments" (let's not assume all commenters actually read the article), which would get the "Add Comment | Comment Policy" on one line.

Another suggestion is for users to be able to give comments thumbs up and thumbs down so that the comments voted best appear at the top. I know that breaks the reverse chronology aspect, but let's be frank: Do you really think people are going to wade through 193 comments on a phone? Let's save them that trouble by letting commenters vote on other comments.

To wrap up, overall is a good mobile web site. I think these suggestions would make it even better.

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