Mar 20, 2014

Is your mobile site doomed?

Communicator Manager Resource Center

How will you know how effective your new responsive site is? You’ve spent hours sweating over bootstrap files and workflow mockups, but all your work could be for naught if you haven’t planned for the post-mobile world as Jeff Eaton, Senior Digital Strategist at Lullabot, presented at last year’s Drupal Conference in Portland, Oregon, “Building for a Post-Mobile World.

Mobile is not a new trend. Review the stats Texas A&M GoMobile team provided. 75% of Texas A&M students connect to the Internet via cell phone. Outside our campus, Eaton states that 47% of adults use their phone for Internet browsing, while 15% use their phone as the primary or sole source for Internet browsing.

If your site is not accessible on a mobile device, there is a good chance you are missing out on valuable user traffic which could mean declining admission rates, research funding or donor support. But, just creating a mobile site is slapping a band-aid on a larger problem: your site’s content.

“People don’t want different content or less content [on mobile sites]. They imagine that their devices are different windows on the same content, and we don’t get to choose how people view our stuff.” – Karen McGrane, A List Apart

Not that mobile design isn’t important — it is. Creating a site that is easy to navigate and read is paramount to maintaining your user base. However, if you have a site with no content, then you have no site at all.

Eaton suggests that instead of focusing on the end published version, we should look at our content as pieces with purpose. A page is not a single element but a group of elements with various levels of importance to your end users.

Knowing what content your to present on your site and what your users are searching for is the first step in creating a site that will survive the mobile apocalypse.

Watch his entire presentation or check out these other great presentations from the conference:

Mar 19, 2014

The Invisibility Factor


This past week marked the 25th “birthday” of the World Wide Web. While recently reading about “what’s next” for the internet, I came across an article from Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL, which I found quite interesting. It talked about the “waves” the internet has gone through as a whole and what is next for everyone who uses the internet. There was a quote that really stuck out that I wanted to share, because I thought it had a great deal to do with how responsive websites are being used today and how they will be used in the future.

The Internet will shift from being the main event to being increasingly invisible, as it becomes more integrated into our devices in subtle, but powerful ways.

I thought this point was incredibly interesting; that the internet is slowly shifting from something we think about and interact with all the time to something that is just… there.

This is where I began thinking about responsive websites and how we are creating products that, on devices, are not necessarily the shiny and sparkly products people use to want, but are the products people now need. We are giving our websites the “invisibility” factor, so that all visitors don’t even think about zooming in and out or missing important information because the site is not compatible with their smartphones or tablets. The information they want and need at that moment is just there for them.


For anyone interested in reading the article, it can be found here:


Mar 10, 2014

How to helpful your webz.

Designer Developer Resource Center

Open this site in your phone … I’ll wait.

Did you see it? Instructions.

In case you didn’t see it open in your browser of choice and set the page emulation to your phone of choice (or just drag the edge of your browser to phone width.) Instead of being presented with a standard issue mobile site, we have a helpful pop-up that helpfully points out the helpful menus using helpful arrows. It’s all very helpful.

This addresses a problem often overlooked in the mobile-dev world. Customer: I’m at your site, but … how do I get around? Where is everything? Where are your links and buttons?


(If it was 40% of a person’s frustrations in 2011 it must be 9000% by now, if my math is correct)

At the NYC School of Visual Arts, they simply give you the answer, frustration free, with “View Section” and “View All” … Got it? (They have that covered too.) It wouldn’t have taken any great effort to play around with the site and find out how to navigate, but finding this helpful tip in place was nice; surprising and thoughtful. By dropping this little hint, they can elegantly hide the nav menu and give the site a nice visual kick without all those big clunky nav blocks eating up the screen space. It’s a minor, but impressive little bit of code; a nice little detail. Details count.


**it only works once per session. to see it again, use incognito mode or equivalent.

Mar 3, 2014

Content Comprehension

Communicator Designer Resource Center

I recently read an article comparing the comprehension scores of the same content read on a desktop and on an iPhone. Not surprisingly, the comprehension scores from readers using an iPhone were 48% of those using a desktop. The article, written by Jakob Nielsen and can be found here, goes on to explain why readers would have a more difficult time understanding content on a mobile device versus a desktop device. The author also gives some good tips on how to improve comprehension of your content on mobile devices.

In conclusion he states, “complicated content should be rewritten to be shorter, with secondary information deferred to subsidiary pages.” While we often get wrapped up in visual design, I think understandability of content can be just as important.