Despite being pretty advanced online, The Guardian’s mobile site is well behind the times, and the newspaper has now
hired a consultant
to improve its mobile strategy.
The mobile edition doesn’t match up to the web version and, with this in mind, I’ve been taking a closer look at the Guardian’s and some other newspaper’s mobile sites…
Annoyingly, to get The Guardian’s mobile version, you first have to register with AvantGo, rather than just going straight to the site or being diverted to the mobile version when accessing the site.
This means having to enter your email address, along with a couple of other details, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do on a mobile phone.
Then, before being sent to the actual site, you have to get past this intro; hopefully your mobile data tariff is reasonable, otherwise you’re paying more for looking at this:
Once there, while the site does a decent job of giving users the top stories in each section, the look and feel of the site is basic, with no images or graphics to break up the text, while he range content on offer is also limited.
The Telegraph mobile site, like the Guardian’s, has a limited range of content on offer, about ten articles in each of four sections; news, sport, finance and travel.
It has been laid out better though, and the headlines and articles are easier to scan than on the Guardian, while no lengthy registration process is required. Good for keeping up with the latest headlines, but even the enhanced mobile version is fairly basic.
The Times has done a slightly better job than its UK rivals here, providing a decent, though still limited, range of stories on its mobile site and provides live football scores, which can be useful.
There are a couple of problems though; the articles are split over several pages which makes for a slower browsing experience, and it doesn’t offer an enhanced version for smartphones.
It has produced an ‘experimental visual widget’ for the iPhone though, which provides a visual method of browsing through stories on the site. Clicking on a picture will take you to the web version of the article:
This is nice to look at, but you are better off pointing your mobile’s browser at the standard Times website.
New York Times
The UK newspaper mobile sites I looked at were pretty basic, so I looked at the New York Times’ mobile site for a comparison, and there is a big improvement.
First of all, the basic mobile site gives you access to a much wider range of the newspaper’s content, providing access to several sections, including its blogs, podcasts and videos, and is a much more advanced mobile site all round.
It has also produced an excellent iPhone app, which makes it very easy to browse through the site:
The Safari browser on the iPhone is excellent for viewing normal websites, but newspaper sites tend to be cluttered; there is a lot of scrolling to do, links to click on, and much zooming in is required to actually read anything.
The iPhone app simplifies the navigation, and produces the best mobile experience I have so far managed to find for a newspaper.
It seems the Guardian will be looking to improve its own mobile offering; it (and the other newspapers mentioned here) would be wise to check out the NYT site and iPhone app for some ideas of how it should be done.