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I've reviewed the mobile sites of The Guardian and FT.com recently, and both are excellent examples of how newspapers can make their content accessible for mobile users, as well as creating more advertising opportunities.

With this in mind, I thought I'd see what all of the UK's national newspapers are doing with their mobile sites, how easy they are to find and access, and if they even have one...

The Sun

The Sun does have a mobile site, but doesn't automatically redirect mobile users there; instead the best way to find it is by searching for 'sun mobile' on your phone's browser.

The Sun mobile

Diverting users to the mobile version of the site is the best way to do it; newspaper homepages are often very busy and cluttered, and hunting for a link to the mobile version is hard even on large screen phones. Users that prefer to view the full website can always choose this option from the mobile version.

The Sun's mobile site isn't too bad, providing a selection of news, sport and showbiz stories. The links are very difficult to select on an iPhone, being too close together, and the range of content is limited, but newspaper has at least kept it simple.

Daily Mirror

The Mirror is one of the only newspapers here that redirects users to the mobile version, which makes it a lot easier to find.

Mirror mobile site

It's not a bad site either; it does the basics well and keeps it simple and easy to read for mobile users. It also seems to provide a larger, though still limited range of content than The Sun. It is also the only mobile newspaper site that allows users to read and leave comments on articles.

The Guardian

I reviewed Guardian Mobile recently and also talked to mobile product manager Marcus Austin about the site, which is one of the best here, and a big improvement on the old version.

Guardian Mobile

The Times

The Times doesn't divert you to the main site, which means you can have a job finding it. Once you do, it's a good, basic site, but it could be improved for smartphone users; the content is limited, and the habit of splitting articles over multiple pages has been carried on from the main website. This is fine for a very long article, but The Times does this for almost every story.

Times Mobile

Not bad though, it does the basics well and provides useful services such as live football scores, but a new version is needed to match The Guardian and FT.com's mobile sites.

The Telegraph

The Telegraph's mobile site is simple and easy to use, but offers a very limited amount of content. A much better experience can be had from the newspaper's iPhone app

.

Daily Mail

As far as I can tell, despite finding a few articles from last year about the imminent launch of a mobile site, the Daily Mail doesn't have one. Or else it has and has made it impossible to find.

The huge homepage makes it particularly difficult to navigate on a mobile browser. As you can see from the screenshot, it still hasn't finished loading, and that's after more than a minute on a wi-fi connection:

Daily Mail on iPhone

Daily Express

The newspaper of the same name from East Malaysia has a mobile site, but not the UK version, which still claims to be the 'World's Greatest Newspaper'.

Here's how it looks on a mobile browser; not very appealing:

Express on iPhone browser

The Daily Star

Like the Mail and Express, if The Daily Star has a mobile site, I was unable to find any mention of it on the homepage or after a few minutes' Googling.


Independent

The Independent seems to have been slower to adapt to the web than its broadsheet rivals, and this is the same for mobile, as it has no site that I can find.

Independent on iPhone browser

FT.com

This is one of the best, at least for smartphone users. The newspaper has looked at the stats for its mobile site, found that 60% of visitors have either Blackberries or iPhones, and optimised for these devices.

FT.com mobile

This may not work for the other newspaper mobile sites, but it produces an excellent user experience for the FT's audience.

Conclusion

Of those newspapers that actually have mobile sites, most are reasonaby easy to use and cover the basics, though some could so with a revamp. The Guardian and FT.com are the two most recently updated mobile sites, and are also the pick of the bunch here.

This is because they have seen the increased use of smartphones and the increasing prevalence of 'all you can eat' mobile tariffs, both of which make the mobile internet more appealing and accessible.

Graham Charlton

Published 8 May, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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FFC

But you didn’t look at the UK's best mobile newspaper site metro.mobi

One of the first and the best!

over 7 years ago

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Ashley L.

And people wonder why newpapers are going down the drain. You start putting all the magazines and newspapers online then thats where they'll go.

over 7 years ago

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Annabel

what's happened to metro.mobi?  I'm disaapointed it;s not there, and howabout evening standard site we launched 2 weeks ago?

over 7 years ago

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WebWindows

Ashley is right. The more things you put on the internet will only encourage people to go on there. WebWindows can help newspaper advertisers improve their adverts so they have no need to put it on the internet.

over 7 years ago

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UK Financials

Dread to think how much time you spent testing all those sites! However, agree with most of your comments, but maybe also add metro.mobi as previous comment suggests.

http://financials.blog.co.uk/

over 7 years ago

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Mobile IQ

We run the top 4 of your list - always great to get independent feedback - thanks. You'll be pleased to hear that we take comments like this on board so changes had already been made to eg web redirects where they weren't in place or not deep-linking. Cheers http://mobileiq.com

about 7 years ago

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