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 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.
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.
The Mirror is one of the only newspapers here that redirects users to the mobile version, which makes it a lot easier to find.
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 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.
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’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
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
This may not work for the other newspaper mobile sites, but it produces an excellent user experience for the FT’s audience.
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.