World-renowned usability expert Jakob Nielsen, in a recent post, suggested that a separate website with lesser features and reduced content is the right way to approach mobile websites.
He says that mobile sites should:
- cut features, to eliminate things that are not core to the mobile use case;
- cut content, to reduce word count and defer secondary information to secondary pages; and
- enlarge interface elements, to accommodate the “fat finger” problems
Several leading designers and web evangelists, and “mobile” specialists, including Josh Clark, Bruce Lawson and others far better qualified to comment than me have expressed their opinions, and I agree with them, that Jakob is wrong.
As an advocate of Responsive Web Design, which in a nutshell, changes the layout of the design to fit the screen, whatever the screen size, rather than removing some of the content, I can’t agree with Jakob. I expect the same content on whatever device I choose to access the website.
My dad used to have a huge number of radios of various shapes and sizes, and many of them were held together with tape, or had loose wires or missing cases. He could never resist buying another radio.
He has his favourites, and had a radio for doing the gardening, and one for listening to when Mum was out, and one by the bed, and several in the garage, and different ones for listening to the football, depending on what station it was on. He fully embraced DAB, and bought a portable DAB radio, as well as his Pure desktop(?) radio.
The reason for mentioning Dad and his radios is that no matter which radio he was messing with, or where he was, he expected to be able to, and could, listen to the same content. Plays on Radio 4 didn’t miss out vital scenes because he was listening on a portable radio and not on the Hi Fi in the living room. He could still listen to the cricket or football on the bottle opener/watch/radio thing he picked up in a pound shop somewhere or in the car, without worrying that he’d only be able to get partial commentary, or have to wait until full time for the score.
My Dad’s love of the radio, and tinkering with them, and taking bits out of one to put in another (and the fact that there was never a working radio when we needed one!), not only inspired me to enjoy music, but gadgets too.
Since discovering iTunes, Amazon and the BBC website, Dad hardly listens to a radio these days, but that’s another story!
Being able to get the content you want, when you want it, on your choice of device, is why there shouldn’t be a separate mobile site, or a separate tablet site, or a separate games console version of a website.
Responsive Web Design makes this possible, and is, in my honest opinion, the right way to design and build websites that not only work on the computers and phones of today, but Future Friendly enough to also work on the devices we’ll be using years from now.