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?
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.