Rant: The Case For Mobile Friendly Websites

pissed_off.gifI read this interesting article last week and felt like posting about it immediately. Too bad I couldn’t because I’ve been so very extremely busy, but I guess it’s still about time. Unfortunately, it’s always time. Blackberries and mobile devices have been around for years, but it doesn’t look like the problem is going away anytime soon.

The trouble described by “Expat Teacher” in that article is bad enough: in this day and age, every site that hopes to be taken seriously has to provide decent access to visitors on board of mini devices with mini screens. Get out of the house a little, take a bus or train and look around you: there are lots of people staring into tiny screens. Youngsters are more likely to be chatting or listening to music. Older people might as well be just reading something via RSS or your own Web site if your Web site gives them the chance. I am not going through all the troubles and reasons: read that article, it is eloquent enough. Especially today, after Greg Myers told us about how we was stranded in an isolated place and managed to find specialized help with his Blackberry.

But there is worse than that.

The first and most important reason that made me pick BerryReview.com as my favorite Blackberry Web site is how much thought Ronen has put into making this whole site available and accessible to Blackberry users. That should be a no-brainer: Blackberry users will be reading it, and these are people that will do everything they can via their BlackBerries whenever possible. So it doesn’t make sense not to cater for them. That would be almost like telling them to go away. So Ronen keeps not only a good RSS feed, but he also takes care that the site looks very good on a Blackberry and that all functionality works fine on a Blackberry. Ronen cares about whoever reads his site. He knows he is not talking to walls, he knows there are actual people out there who read it and it’s the kind of people who are very prone to reading it on their beloved tiny screens.

Unfortunately, BerryReview.com is almost an exception. I am not going to name names. This post alone could be considered rude enough by other site owners, and this is a slightly subjective point. Instead, just point your Berries to some of those sites and judge them by yourselves. I’ll bet you don’t even have the motivation to visit some of them because you’ve already been there and actively avoid them unless you’re on the desktop. I know I do. Like I said, every site owner that wants to be taken seriously in 2008, especially readers who maintain their own Blackberry sites, should ask yourselves: what are you thinking?

If your Web site is not about the Blackberry, you’re not quite off the hook. Think about your target audience. Do you really think those people are not likely to visit (or at least try) your site with a Blackberry? Then how did you end up here anyway? Remember Greg’s story. Anything can be interesting, important or life-saving to Web visitors, and there is no reason to believe that none of them is using a Blackberry.

This rant is particularly relevant to sites that discuss technology and gadgets. So many of them look so awful in my Blackberry that I fear getting an injury from shaking my head in disgust so often. These are technology-oriented sites! How can they neglect technology-oriented visitors (most of them) like that? Obviously, they don’t eat their own dog food. They just write about mobile devices, they don’t really use them. Hey, you, big tech site with all those news, reviews and popular video and audio podcasts! I loathe your site! That will apply to many of them. I promised I wouldn’t name names…

And it’s not as difficult as you probably think. You’d all probably know that by now if you had professionals taking care of your sites. Professionals know that there is something out there called CSS that will let you have two versions of your site and you will have to change virtually none of your existing content and structure. Then everything happens automatically. Get informed, will you? Look at this the following way: I am asking you to let me and a whole lot of other people visit your site. Is that asking too much?

5 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. On a positive note, I know that Crackberry Australia (www.crackberry.com.au) are in the process of setting up a mobile/BlackBerry friendly site after one of the members requested it a couple of weeks ago. It’s in beta now and should go mainstream soon.
    I will let you all know.

  2. There are SO MANY supposed ‘berry sights that are essentially unreadable on a ‘berry it’s not funny! In the spirit of the articale I’m not listing ones either, but any site who’s RSS feed when you open an article in browser and it takes 1 dozen or more taps on the space bar to get to the article content ought to take heed!

    Another rant >I< have is the sites that make it essentially IMPOSSIBLE to post a article comment from mobile. One particular gadget site in particular has a really nice mobile browser view of their articles, but JUST RY to comment from your mobile and it’s an exercise in endless frustration.

  3. The mobile version of BlackBerry Forums Australia (CrackBerry Au) is up and away. The mobile site address is http://wap.blackberryforums.com.au .
    It’s still in beta and testing is still continuing but ‘It’s Up. 🙂

  4. I’ve made a few changes to the style that Themes4BB.com has been using.

    I think its a little more friendlier. Check it out from your BlackBerry Browser @ http://www.themes4bb.com/forum

  5. Not bad at all, Steve! I would add a bit of color and make the different sections of each page more easily distinguishable, but you already have a pretty Blackberry-friendly site going there. Thanks!

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