Thursday, November 10, 2011

An open letter to mobile sites

Dear mobile site,

Most of the time, frankly, you’re awful. All too often, you don’t let me do what I came to the site to do -- something that your full site lets me do pretty easily. You present a small handful of options, but not the one I’m looking for. And to be honest, you’re ugly. I definitely appreciate good design on a website, so using you is just not a very pleasant experience.

Yesterday, I started the day as I usually do, checking email on my iPhone before getting out of bed. I got an offer from a clothing retailer for 20% off if I shopped during the week. When I clicked on the link, there were choices to see women’s, children’s, or men’s items. I was looking for women’s clothing – but there was some kind of overlay welcoming me to the mobile site, and it blocked my ability to choose women’s clothes (which I strongly suspect is this retailer’s primary line of business). I clicked on the children’s clothing link, and there, all I could do was drill down, not go to women’s clothes. Oh well – I guess they didn’t really want me to shop with them online. Effective mobile experience? I don’t think so!!

Then on my way home from work, I got a weekly update from a nonprofit career site. In order to see the open positions in Illinois, I clicked through to the site and it asked me if I wanted to go to the mobile site. I’ve clicked “no” each time I have visited the site, but apparently it’s too much for this site to remember that option. I got a request to remember my location – why in the world does this site need to know where I am? I clicked “no” once again. And in paging through the openings in Illinois, I had to carefully expand the page so I clicked on the “next” link vs. the one to the mobile site – yet again. There is an option to see all openings from Illinois at once, but it doesn’t work. Major fail!

I don’t mind scrolling around a “real” site on my phone. It’s a mini-computer, after all – not a Blackberry circa 1996. Bandwidth isn’t really an issue, and real sites have information in predictable places, and a real, defined user experience.

So mobile site, don’t get in my way – and give me the option to decline using you, permanently. If you choose to not do that, I will choose not to visit you.

Thanks for listening.