The Independent launched a new mobile website last week. According to the newspaper, the site aims to offer a ‘faster, simplified version of its news for users on the move’
A number of newspapers, including The Guardian and FT.com, have launched or revamped their mobile sites this year, so how does the Indie’s offering compare?
The Independent mobile site was designed to work across most major handsets; here’s how it looks on an iPhone:
The look and feel of the site is fine, with the gold and white colour scheme echoing that of the main site. It does lack the visual appeal of both The Guardian and FT.com mobile sites, but keeping it simple is fine for a mobile site that people will use on a variety of handsets and connection speeds.
Content on display is limited to three or four stories per section, with the option to see more in each category. The truncated story intros (shown below) can get annoying though:
This is an indication that the main website content has been added to the mobile site without enough consideration over how it appears on the small screen. This slideshow of cricket insults is another such example. Readers are invited to click on the image to see the slideshow, but this doesn’t work on mobiles. This should either be displayed in a mobile-friendly format, or not at all.
Articles are well presented and easy to read, with good quality images, though links to related content at the foot of the article would have been useful so users can read more on a particular issue or jump straight to the other news headlines.
The Independent has added a redirect which sends users searching on a mobile browser straight to that version of the Independent website, while a link back to the main Indie website has been provided.
This is a good idea, as it instantly provides mobile users with the most suitable version of the site, saving them the trouble of having to type the URL in or hunt around the main website for a link.
The site search feature isn’t bad too, and allows user to access more content on the site, though providing a couple of basic filters and sorting options would make it easier to make sense of results.
Overall, it’s a good mobile site which follows mobile best practice basics by simplifying the main website’s user experience and providing a site that is easy to use and navigate on the small screen.
It doesn’t quite match the recent mobile sites from The Guardian and FT.com though, both of which offer more content and functionality, such as up to date stock information, and text commentary of sporting events.
It may be an idea for the Independent to look at the kinds of handsets people are using to access the mobile site and consider adding more content and features if a significant proportion are using Blackberries and iPhones, and was the case with the FT.com’s readers.