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Metro has become the latest newspaper to embrace responsive design as it moves towards a “mobile-first” strategy.

A blog post announcing the site redesign says that the company made the change “sure in the knowledge that mobile users are making up an increasing proportion of our visitors – and will soon be in the majority.”

According to our fourth annual Conversion Rate Optimization Report, produced in association with RedEye, the proportion of organisations designing their websites specifically for mobile phones has increased from 25% to 35% since 2011.

Therefore Metro.co.uk’s redesign is part of a wider trend – in fact we’ve previously reported on the BBC’s move towards responsive design, as well as USA Today’s new site that was built with tablet users in mind.

So, how does Metro’s site measure up?

Usability

The new site is designed to mimic a newspaper, so you can swipe through the top stories from the day on a mobile device or click through the stories on desktop.

The articles that appear in the digital ‘edition’ will include stories selected by Metro’s editors and those that are proving popular on social media. The edition will keep changing throughout the day.

Users therefore have no control over what the stories that appear as they swipe through, in the same way that content is curated in a newspaper.

       

However you can also pick and choose the articles you want to read from the homepage, which uses an image-heavy format to present the day’s top stories.

It’s a design that has become common for news sites, so it’s not surprising that the Metro has followed suit.

Is it any good?

Metro is right to have adopted a mobile-first strategy for its redesign, as it needs to cater for its user base that is increasingly using the site on smartphones and tablets.

But personally I don’t think the new navigation function works.

One of the best things about reading news online is that you can pick and choose the stories that interest you, and if nothing takes your fancy you can try a different site.

     

So I don’t think many users will have the patience to swipe through endless X Factor and Rihanna stories until they find a news story that’s actually interesting.

That said, I do think that Metro has done a better job than the USA Today did with its revamp.

USA Today didn’t use responsive design and you can’t swipe through the different sections and webpages when using the site on a tablet. Plus you can barely see the content for the ads.

So while I think it’s great that Metro has gone mobile-first and used responsive design, the edition format feels like a bit of a gimmick.

David Moth

Published 10 December, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1682 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Shannon Coulter

This piece kind of misses the main point of responsive design, which is that it will adjust the content to any screen size. It's not so much "mobile first" as it is platform agnostic. Instead of putting the emphasis on the device, responsive design puts the emphasis on the content and the brand. This one minute video provides a succinct explanations of responsive design: http://www.fireflycompany.com/what-is-responsive-web-design

almost 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Shannon. Thanks for your comment. I know what responsive design is, the 'mobile-first' comment came directly from Metro's design team and refers to the layout of the new site, which has clearly been designed with mobile users in mind.

almost 4 years ago

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Jamie Walters

David, thanks for your feedback on our new site. As a user-focused organisation we welcome all input on our work. It's important to note that this is the first iteration of a dramatic new direction for us and we will be optimising and altering any number of elements as we learn more about how our customers are using the site. High on the list is the logic that underpins the story ordering within the swipes and how we can deliver multiple different versions depending on user preferences or entry point to the site. And with regards the mini debate above, our philosophy is mobile-first and we are using responsive design as a means of delivering against that

Jamie Walters, Product Development Director, Metro

almost 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Jamie, thanks for your comment. I definitely think that mobile-first is the best strategy for newspapers and media agencies, and look forward to seeing how Metro develops over the next 12 months.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Nicholson

Andrew Nicholson, Founder at The Guku

Touch of snobbery there at the end @David? Rule 101 of marketing - know your audience. Your average Metro reader likes nothing better than reading about Rhianna doing a double act with Lauren Pope on X Factor. Looks to me like they've hit the nail right on the head

over 3 years ago

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