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 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.

Dec 2, 2013

Convincing your boss to go mobile: Sometimes the truth hurts

Designer Manager

The Go Mobile team’s recent focus group and survey revealed making departmental websites mobile friendly is not a high priority for management. A respondent said tools were needed to “help convince my leadership that this needs to be done now and not just soon.” Here are a few ways you might approach this problem.

“[Insert name of top competitor]’s website is already mobile friendly”
Look at peer institution websites (vision2020.tamu.edu/peer-institutions) to see how far along they are in going mobile. If your top competitors are already mobile friendly, your department is falling behind. If many aren’t mobile friendly, your department has an opportunity to become a leader in this area.

“Students hate our website”
Survey students within your majors about whether the current site adequately supports access from mobile devices. Take the opportunity to find out what content is the most important to students, which will be helpful when redesigning your site.

“The latest website redesign was in the last century”
A Chanel suit is timeless. A website design, not so much. In your survey, ask students about how they feel about the website’s design. Results may help your leadership understand an outmoded, poorly designed site speaks more powerfully in a negative way than they thought.

“Faculty hate our website, too”
This could pose some difficulties in obtaining information, so you may need to be a bit “sneakier.” For example, if your department is conducting a job search, ask the committee chair if the website shows the department in the best light. The current site may not be meeting faculty needs for reasons other than lack of mobile friendliness.

We know having a great website isn’t one of the metrics by which your department is assessed. However, it is a very important tool that helps departments achieve their goals.

Aug 1, 2013

New report on high school students, use of mobile devices in college search

Communicator Manager Resource Center

The latest E-Expectations report from Noel-Levitz, The Impact of Mobile Browsing on the College Search Process, is available at http://blog.noellevitz.com/2013/07/31/high-school-students-mobile-devices-college-search-process-campus-ready. It provides new data about mobile usage by college-bound high school students. University communicators take note: there’s a list of top 10 content priorities when browsing college sites via mobile devices.

Jul 10, 2013

Mobile-first redesign of Security.tamu.edu

Communicator Designer Developer Manager Resource Center

Texas A&M Information Technology recently redesigned Security.tamu.edu thinking mobile first. Our team worked to streamline and reorganize the content to improve readability. The site is divided into articles on big topics like identity theft or protecting confidential information. Each article has an introduction paragraph and sections with clear headings to make the content easy to scan. On mobile devices, the body content is converted into an accordion, which keeps scrolling to a minimum and allows readers to select the topics most relevant to them.