FT.com has been giving its mobile site a makeover, launching a new version which matches the pink look of the website, and has also been optimised for smartphone users.
I looked at a few mobile newspaper sites recently, and haven't been all that impressed so far, especially with those from UK publishers, so how well does FT.com translate to mobile?
One mistake the FT mobile site avoids is the need for any kind of registration process as on Guardian mobile, or to send a text to receive a link to the mobile site, as with Times Mobile. All you need to do is visit m.FT.com.
Some mobile best practice advice says that websites should detect these users and automatically divert them to the mobile version, as this saves them hunting around for the link, though users may appreciate having the choice. A clearer link to the mobile version from the standard website would be helpful though.
The mobile site has been simplified well for mobile though, and there is plenty of content available. Headlines are presented with a few lines of text so users can better decide whether to click, while a table halfway down the page gives the latest markets data, which can also be customised so users can keep an eye on certain markets or stocks:
The site is fast to browse, well laid out with simple navigation and an effective site search option. Users can scroll through the top three stories in each section, click on the section headers to see more World, UK or Business news, while the menu at the bottom of the page offers other areas of the site, or the ability to set content specific to your region:
The pink background has been carried over from the new FT.com website, and though the revamped site has been criticised for lack of contrast due to the colour of the background, it seems easy enough to read on a mobile screen.
While the standard FT.com requires users to subscribe to view more than 20 articles, the mobile version has no such restrictions, though the Lex column is out of bounds to non-subscribers.
According to the press release, around 60% of the mobile site's users have either Blackberrys or iPhones, so optimising for these devices is a smart move, and it does work well and looks good on an iPhone. Other UK news sites have not yet optimised for smartphones, and the look and feel of the Guardian and Times sites is way behind that of the new FT.com mobile site.
FT.com also plans to introduce an iPhone app to further enhance the user experience on the site, which is a good idea considering the site's audience. The New York Times has done this and it is the best way to view the site on mobile, providing better and quicker navigation than its already good mobile site.
FT.com has produced the best mobile site I have seen of all the UK newspapers so far, the web version has been simplified effectively for the small screen; the site is easy to read and navigate, with a good range of news and content.