Your Content, Now Mobile

by Karen McGrane

14 Reader Comments

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  1. The author doesn’t seem to appreciate one of the key reasons why the iPhone (and its imitators) was so successful. When companies had to write apps for their sites they cut out the crap! The result was that it became so much easier to use EBay or Wikipedia or book a car with Avis on your iPhone than wade through the horrors of their web pages. Unfortunately some companies just don’t appreciate this, and you get disasters such as the Wine Society app, where they clearly didn’t understand the need to rethink the site for the phone. So it’s not insulting the user to tailor the app to the medium - it’s liberating for him. Nor is the Microsoft menu analogy valid. There was nothing physical preventing long menus - there was room for them. But physical constraints mean you can’t make reading something like a novel on the iPhone anything other than a third-best experience.
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  2. There tend to be two schools of thought regarding mobile content. One line of reasoning is that mobile should offer less, because screen sizes are tiny. The other (the argument I advance in my book) is that mobile should provide content parity, because user tasks and goals don’t vary by screen size. If you feel that you need to “rethink” your content for mobile devices, you need to rethink it for ALL users. If your content isn’t worthy of being on mobile, then get rid of it for everyone. You should strive to present a consistent experience for your users, whatever platform or screen size or device they’re using. If you opt to do something totally different for mobile, you’re forking your content and dooming yourself to maintenance and governance nightmares. Not a good content strategy. Also, it’s a myth that phones always provide a third-rate reading experience. I cite data from Readability that shows people were MORE engaged on their phones than on iPad or desktop.
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  3. Provided content is present as well indexed database entries “cut[ting] out the crap”, as David writes, is often just a different representation of data *minus ads*, no “forking” and “governance nightmares” needed, as Karen puts it, maybe you aren’t that far apart.
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  4. Great article, thank you for sharing it! Where I work we’re redesigning our website to work on mobile at the moment. We have over 600 pages of information, much of it duplicated or irrelevant but it all needs reviewing before transferring to the new site. We’ve been working on the principle of ‘if it isn’t relevant to a mobile user why would a desktop user want it?’, but I think now we also need to be careful of not going too far in the other direction and taking out content that would be useful to out users.
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  5. The user **always** thinks of ways to use your stuff that you had **never** have thought of… A lesson I’ve had to learn over and over again during the past 40 years!
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  6. I’ve experienced the ever annoying link that redirects to a mobile homepage. Seriously frustrating. Perhaps, as you implied, desktop sites need to re-focus. I believe so.
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  7. Hi. Instead of writing ALA an email, I just leave some words here. Hope that it’ll reduce your work load a little bit. Thanks to the mobile app developers and designers, we have now so many various apps to play with. Our company develops mobile apps, too. We found a detailed thing that keeps wasting developers’ and designers’ time.—They have to make many different-sized icons to fit the requirement of app store before submitting every time. We provide a solution: http://makeappicon.com/ It generates all the sizes needed in a click.
    Willing to benefit all the app development lovers like us, it’s totally, absolutely free forever. I appreciate if you have interest to spread the web to your audiences. And you can contact me freely by: vanessa@oursky.com | @vanessa_oursky | http://www.facebook.com/vanessa0007 Best regards,
    Vanessa
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  8. Fantastic, thought provoking article. And a timely one too as we are beginning to work on a large, public sector redesign and mobile (obviously) is an issue. This is a large website and simply making the front end ‘responsive’ doesn’t help unless an intelligent dialogue about valid content happens. I sympathise with the mobile website redirect route you encountered; that rang many bells with me and is something I intend to avoid in this project. I dislike the general concept of creating a separate mobile version of the website - it just feels wrong at the moment. But I dislike the possibility that we have a single set of URLs which then try to serve up slightly different content for mobile (browser sniffing feels wrong and such changing content is a massive no-no with Google); ideally I’d like to keep page size down to bare bones (even more so for smaller screens) with (potentially) limited data…or does that feel like guessing? :) Lots to mull over. Thanks Joel
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  9. I have been thinking about this very thing a lot lately as more and more people are accessing the internet on their phones. I do believe this is the way of the future whether you like it or not. We’re all going to be dealing with it. Just think of how many new smartphones will be received for Christmas presents this year.
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  10. I definitely think mobile should be cut down (if the site allows). There are some sites that may need to keep all the content for mobile viewers but I think the majority should be stripped back with an option to go to the full site.
    Majority of people are there to complete a task and then move on.
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  11. Well! Look! We’ve been working on the principle of ‘if it isn’t relevant to a mobile user why would a desktop user want it?’, but I think now we also need to be careful of not going too far in the other direction and taking out content that would be useful to out users.
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  12. The mobile is an example of consumer culture as material objects have taken on significant symbolic, cultural importance and distinct organisational potential in the Western world.
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  13. Karen!  So Refreshing… you say it up front, no beans about it, and that’s how I like it!  And I agree with you 100%.... when you said, “If you feel that you need to “rethink” your content for mobile devices, you need to rethink it for ALL users. If your content isn’t worthy of being on mobile, then get rid of it for everyone.” I think this statement is packed with a powerful truth….. we need to create mobile sites that create a fantastic user experience.  And that means presenting great content to meet the needs of your target audience, not wash it down just ‘until it fits’.  Though, I do believe as we are confronted with a future where mobile & Tablet surfing is going to explode even further in popularity, thus, we must rethink the best way to present our content…  not just for the mobile experiences, but also for “desktops” and everything in between….and possibly admit to ourselves that maybe, just maybe, we could have done a better job in the past.  Maybe we were too wordy to begin with, or used to many graphics, and added 200 hyperlinks to our footers (like that ever looked appealing!!) Personally, I plan to present my mobile site(s) content just as I did all these years… though I will use more CSS 3 for color theme and far fewer graphics. With jQuery Mobile, I know my mobile sites will work on nearly any device imaginable…  and I can make navigation menus that are initially hidden to save space, so the viewer can open it only when they need to see it….  Again, Karen, thanks for your stupendous presentation.  Refreshing. Sincerely
    Kelly Lucas
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  14. Hey, I love this article but know you have sort of addressed a change in your opinion in more modern context. I’ve read “Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem,” but was curious if you have a 2014 version of this post in regards to your hypothesis that we shouldn’t assume context—information-oriented vs. task-oriented strategy. Thanks!
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