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DVD rental company LoveFilm launched a mobile version of its website earlier this month, allowing users to browse through titles, read news and reviews, and view trailers.
The site is not fully transactional yet, though this is something that is planned for the future, but it does provide an opportunity to promote the LoveFilm service to mobile users, as well as providing advertising space.
When we talked to LoveFilm founder William Reeve just over a year ago, he felt that "mobile interfaces are so crap that you haven’t got that many customers that would be prepared to put up with it".
This was sensible at the time, but now improvements in these interfaces, as well as increased use of smartphones means that mobile sites can now be both useful and usable for customers.
When you visit LoveFilm through your mobile browser, you are automatically diverted to the mobile version of the site, a good example of mobile best practice. There is a link to the standard site if users prefer it, but sending users to the mobile site saves some tricky navigation on the small screen.
The site is well laid out and easy enough to navigate, though it hasn't totally shrunk to fit the screen of my iPhone, meaning that I can't see all of the banner ad at the top, which in the screenshot above, includes the name of the film it's promoting.
It doesn't seem to have been developed for the iPhone specifically, and while it may work well on other internet-enabled phones, there are one or two slight issues on an iPhone. For instance, the links to view trailers are quite small, making it easy to click on the wrong link, while the text is a little too small in places.
I appreciate that this is a mobile site in its early stages, and LoveFilm will be taking feedback from users before making changes, but it should consider optimising the site for different mobile devices to provide the best experience for each visitor.
This is something LoveFilm will have to work out from the kind of feedback it gets, and the information it will gather on the type of handsets users are accessing the site on. If it isn't practical to optimise for every mobile device, then at least the most popular should be catered for.
The site works well as a resource for film fans though, and the range of film information and both critic and user reviews are helpful for people making a decision about what film to watch:
If mobile users are shopping offline, and thinking about buying a DVD to watch at home, then they could do worse than visit the LoveFilm mobile site for reviews and information.
In fact, LoveFilm should perhaps think about adding transactional functions to the site pretty quickly, as this is a useful research resource for offline shoppers using their mobiles, which is perhaps not what the company intends.