News aggregator Newsnow has recently released a version of its website optimised for mobile users.
Newsnow uses a wide range of sources, I find it useful for keeping up with football news for instance, so how well has it translated to mobile?
Some websites seem to make you jump through hoops to get onto their mobile versions; some (like Guardian mobile) make you register first, while others (ITV and TimesOnline) insist that you text them first to receive the link.
Newsnow does it slightly better, putting the address (nnmob.com) on the site, though sites should just detect the fact that mobiles are being used and direct users to that version, though some users may appreciate the option of using the standard site.
The key thing for mobile versions of websites is to make the site as simple to use as possible, by removing any unnecessary graphics, photos, ads and other thing which make the site harder to view and slows the loading process on a small screen.
Newsnow does this quite well, presenting a stripped down version which displays stories in chronological order, and provides a navigation menu at the top:
This is much easier to view than the standard version on a mobile, which requires much zooming in on an iPhone:
It does require a fair amount of scrolling, which may affect performance on some mobiles, but it is easy to use and view headlines on a small screen with the optimised version.
Navigation is quite complex on the standard website, partly because there are a lot of news categories to look through. It has been simplified as much as possible, with a search box and a drop down menu with different categories.
After selecting a section, sub-categories within the sections are accessible, so all the content on the web version of the site is available via mobile.
Clicking on a story opens the page in a new window, which some usability experts may disagree with, but is perhaps the best way to use this kind of site.
Some useful features of the web version are missing though; including the table showing the most viewed and recently viewed articles, which provide a useful way to find content.
These have been ditched though, as well as the ads, to keep it simple for the mobile web.
For such a text-heavy and cluttered website, Newsnow has been translsted well to mobile with a stripped down version that is easy to use.
Mobile Internet - Roundtable Briefing, June 2008