Draft Versions of a Mobile Website, and the Question of Mobile Devices v. Blogs

Just to let you know I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to start moving on site improvements, reader Sven has developed draft versions of a mobile website. These still need some refining, but I wanted to give you a look-see and the opportunity to comment.

YOU NEED TO LOAD THEM ON A MOBILE DEVICE. Loading them on your desktop might be entertaining, but we want comments from people using it in the intended manner.

Version 1

Version 2

Note only the first page of each works, and the links go back to the site. (Personally, I’d like to see the turquoise on the desktop version incorporated here but colors are the easiest design issue we have to contend with)

Sven did intend his design to be cross platform, and I think it looks nice on my Mac, but my ad service protested. First, they said mobile designs are all about speed and maximizing the viewing space. They highlighted this post as the sort of designs that they thought made sense for mobile devices.

So even though he cleaned up the right column and created the clever “Explore” button, what is now on the right probably gets relegated to a combo of a bar across the top with links in it and the Explore button.

Second, they are really really over the moon keen about a service called Onswipe for iPads. The problem from my perspective is that Onswipe is designed to run as a native application, and they’ve rethought all the design parameters. That means they are super visual (which does not do a text heavy site like mine any favors) and they don’t serve pages in the blog reverse chronological order. MSM sites seem to like it (remember, they are more visual to begin with) but they have also done heavy customization (iPad users no doubt notice the difference, say, in the NY Times app on their computer v. their iPad).The ad folks love it because iPad users swipe though pages quickly, so they get 3X the page views on the iPad that they do on a desktop (I wonder how long it will take advertisers to figure out some of these swipes are so fast as to be junk views). It is a non-starter now as far as I am concerned, because they don’t incorporate comments sections (!). They promise to have it in the next few months.

These are the standard templates and I hate them. You can see how they presuppose a picture-dominated design. They say they will help customize them but I am pretty leery:

Onswipe Private Layouts

What concerns me more fundamentally is that this medium seems to be hostile to what this site is about, which often is deep digging into complex topics. This note from someone at my ad service confirmed that:

I don’t think you are truly accepting the concept of making a site Tablet friendly. Text heavy is bad for a 10 inch screen. I have visited your site on an iPad and it is a long process to try and read more than the articles on the home page. In order for someone to be easily able to navigate all of your content you need to have a system that puts it all at their fingertips. That is what Onswipe as well as probably 5 other startups are doing right now and getting millions of dollars in venture capital to do so. Every major news publication is creating custom applications and HTML5 versions of their newspapers because a regular site does not work at all for mobile.

I got a message from a tech savvy, sympathetic reader that I found depressing:

I think you’re missing a conceptual frame about mobile. It’s very important to recognize that ipad’s and smartphones are just different than pc’s.

When I started blogging in 2002, a lot of people made the mistake of assuming that blogs and television were the same, because both had screens. I’m not kidding. It took the form of “anyone can say anything without editors unlike TV”. This complaint actually revealed how little these people understood about blogs and media in general. They didn’t get the ability to correct and update posts, but they also didn’t understand two things about social media. One, fundamentally blogs are not a limited bandwidth medium, and two, blogs have a social filter. You can start a new blog in five minutes, you can’t start a new Sunday show without enormous capital and social connections. You also can criticize a blog post using a relatively equalized platform (comments or another blog), you can scream at your TV if you disagree with what’s on, but that’s about it.

This was both a social and a technological difference. It’s not just that the web and TV are technically different. Social group editing for blogs was different in form and hierarchy than TV producing. These kinds of differences are common whenever there’s a leap in format. The first movies were filmed plays, Yahoo was essentially a phone directory, the first web in the 1990s didn’t have blogs b/c people were porting newspapers to the web directly. Eventually a native format for the medium emerges.

This is what iPads represent, a different medium. In terms of its technology, the use of hands and swiping changes how people interact with the content. Richer, more visual content is easier to look into, including audio, video, video games, books, and interactive content. It’s the CD-ROM fantasy the media fanboys thought would emerge in the mid-1990s. For NC, this probably means associating pictures with your content, as you do with your link posts. Socially, the mobile system is actually more oriented towards services like twitter and facebook than comments, and frankly, it’s more like television (sadly) in the power it is pushing back to the publisher. This isn’t to say you should think about getting rid of the comment section, because you obviously have to combine your mobile and PC workflow if nothing else.

This is just a conceptual frame for you, and it might explain the Onswipe template. I have some issues with the Onswipe visuals, mostly they don’t fit within your established workflow of reverse chronological posting and they get rid of the community. Those problems can be solved either through modification of your workflow, or giving them a clear visual hierarchy, like segmenting your posts and your guest-posts into sections or finding a way to highlight important stories or something like that on the mobile site.

You can see why I avoid dealing with site administration and act like the cobbler whose children go unshod. I wonder if the proliferation of mobile devices will be the end of blogging and more important, of the ability of blogs to affect the collective discourse, and the answer may be yes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Foppe

    (Note: links to the mock-ups are currently broken)

    Having said that, I am inclined to say that I would not worry overmuch about the ‘fact’ that blogs are not a ‘logical’ presentation form for (all?) ipad users. There is a certain tyranny in the assumption that they will all want picture-heavy, text-free/light content, and it is being pushed in no small part by the developers of those applications.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Eeek, Version 1 had two links in it (fixed, so that should load). The second link is correct but the site seems to hang. I’ve pinged Sven, hopefully he will check into that.

    2. Yearning To Learn

      Yves… Ignore the buffoons. I’m reading NC with an iPad as we speak. Those “experts” are talking about a different demographic… The Zynga Farmville dorks. Put a picture in if it furthers your story. Don’t if it doesn’t. I’d read NC on papyrus. It’s like saying Golf should have more fights and tighter clothes because that’s what the kids are into these days. Sheesh, NC isn’t Peoples Magazine. No pic of Kim Kardashian needed.

    3. pebird

      I use an iPad and I hate mobile sites. I want that “view standard site” at the top of the page, not the bottom.

      Since I also browse using a PC as well as an iPad, the mobile site messes up my mental context somehow.

      I think most mobile site templates are designed to help with electronic commerce (lots of little buttons and fields in checkout pages).

      Your site looks and works just fine with the iPad.

      For a smartphone, sure. But the automatic loading of a mobile version is annoying to me. It’s Apple’s fault since the iPad ID’s itself as mobile Safari.

      1. Denis

        I’ll second a few other comments with respect to not wanting any kind of iPad “optimized” experience. The only decent app/optimized experience I’ve run into is that of the FT, and even for that one pales in comparison with their web site.

        If anything short the VCs behind Onswipe – the thing is a gigantic, sticking pile of feces. I hate the thing with such a passon that I no longer bother scrolling to the bottom of the page to get the normal site: I just hit the back button.

        Anyway, for iPhone, your ad joint has things correct. For iPad, the normal site works just fine: it’s a mere double tap to comfortably read the blog.

  2. Flying Kiwi

    I own neither an iPad nor a tablet but it seems to me that expecting a necessarily text-heavy (and frequently just heavy in the context of meaty) web-page to be easily accessible via a device intended for quick and easy access while you’re ‘on-the-go’ and doing something else is as pointless as expecting a Mahler symphony to be enjoyable over a telephone. And when people start demanding Mahler symphonies be broadcast in a format/codec which makes them even vaguely listenable-to over a telephone we all lose.

    1. Coldtype

      Let’s just try to keep in mind that anything that aspires to be t/v-lite should raise red flags given that the TeeVee remains the nexus of stupidity and was designed to encourage passivity and obedience.

  3. IF

    I have always been able to read you site on an Ipod touch perfectly well (GPhone seems fine as well). I don’t see a need for a mobile version. The first link is broken. The second link seems to work and I think it is bad as there is way too much screen RE wasted not on articles. I had to scroll two pages to get to the first read and there is a page wasted between articles. All it gives me is a larger font size with lots of hassle. I can easily zoom on either device, I don’t need a dedicated page for this. An easy opt out of the mobile version would be a plus. (Don’t require your users to go to a substandard mobile version. Newer phones have screens that rival laptops in resolution.)

    I did not install an app because I think html5 is the way to go (long term).

    Don’t worry about comment sections. Touchscreen users won’t write much anyway.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Part of the motivation is the loading speed, as well as readability. I did indicate we need to lose the right column if either version is to be mobile only (Sven and I have a bit of an outtrade here….).

      A lot of readers come to NC for comments as much as main text, so I think not having comments on an iPad version is a bad idea.

    2. IF

      I tried again and the second version is utterly broken with all three devices I tried. The gray bars interfere with reading and needlessly consume real estate. You should also know that fixed position elements are very heavy on processing power. Forget about smooth scrolling on older devices if this is not executed well.

      Finally, both layouts are way too generous with screen real estate. One of the reasons I liked the old page on tiny screens was that there was not much space wasted to the left of the text. Now space is wasted everywhere. But to the left it is critical as zooming magnifies this space as well and increases the waste.

  4. Hans Suter

    works well on iPad2 with ios 501, links (internal and external) are fast, makes for easier reading than actual blog on mac; doesn’t work on safari with iPhone 4 ios 501. Would be great to have iPad and iPhone apps.

  5. frequent

    I read a nice article on 3D movies yesterday and how they are being forced onto viewers. Too expensive to create your own movies, so you have to take what’s being made avialable.

    With blogs or the web in general it’s a different story, because as your reader notes, you can easily create a blog and also play with its design to fit your taste and users need. So I wouldn’t worry too much.

  6. Kurt L

    Then there are those of us who DO load up meaty, text-rich web pages on a mobile device (iPod) precisely so that they can be read and digested during a train commute or plane trip. Probably a small minority, I know.

    By the way, the On-Swipe example page #2 does not allow pinch re-sizing, which I find annoying; to get the most out of my screen I like to zoom in until the text fills the screen exactly.

    1. Flying Kiwi

      I guess we should thank our lucky stars that the few folks upon whom Gutenberg first tried his new invention didn’t find the necessity of having to keep turning pages ‘annoying’.

      1. pebird

        Kind of off topic, but I wish for a “thumbs up” feature in Comments, so I could give Flying Kiwi a thumbs up.

  7. Hans Suter

    TPM Cafè has a similar format, it works well on the iPad, comments are below the posts via disqus. Works well.

  8. Gumbo

    Call me old school, but handheld formats are frustrating. I prefer viewing in “regular” format on both iPad and iPhone. Version 2 has those annoying bars that try to be at the top and bottom but which mostly just get in the way until the renderer catches up. Then they waste space.

    For me you can skip the mobile version and spend the time on posts.

  9. skippy

    The….Mind behind….this_blog_is all that matters to me, of coarse guest post too.

    Skippy…the rest is just cheep ambiance, eye candy, 120bit video game snacks, immersion advertising…barf….

  10. Lafayette

    Mobile devices are for instant communication. Any effort that requires some rumination (meaning thought) probably requires the ability to think in a reposed manner.

    Is that possible with a mobile device? I suspect not.

    In fact, what IS the necessity of instantaneous mobile communication except within a professional context? Is that the case with a forum such as NC – or any other of the same nature?

    So, if on a trip, one misses an opportunity to dialogue/debate. Where, pray tell, in a non-professional context, is that such a great loss?

    More importantly, dialogging as regards the matters posted on NC requires (or should require) reflection, which is best applied when calm, preferably sedentary and not mobile rushing about.

    (Admittedly, on a long plane/train trip, there is plenty of sedentary-time. But how often is that the occurrence? Besides inter-communicational technologies can take most of the necessity out of physically moving bodies – highly polluting of the atmosphere at present – about for the sole purpose of physically meeting one another.)

    Already, there is considerable discussion amongst psychologists of the benefit of our lack of reflexion-time in this hyper-pressurized life-style of ours. Why add to it? What is its substantive utility, pray tell?

    Texting is one thing, dialogging yet another and debating is yet another again. Each media-means has its merits and demerits – often the merits of one are the demerits of another.

    1. JTFaraday

      You know, in the sub/urban northeast, lots of people have 2+ hour long daily commutes on mass transit. I don’t know many people that is, exactly, but I know it’s not an insignificant number.

      There are even people who commute from Princeton/Philly/the Poconos to Manhattan. Not to mention the Jersey Shore, (where there’s no work).

      Mobile apps are a definite improvement over some guy waving the Wall Street Journal in your face five hours a day.

  11. Taylor


    They both worked fine on my android phone. There is just one aspect of the layout that is different depending on how you hold the phone. Holding the phone horizontally the auto sizing keeps the tip jar, recent comments, blogroll, Econned link, etc. to the right of the viewable area on the phone’s screen. I can scroll over and view all that stuff if I want to. When holding the phone vertically, everything is in view (no possibility for scrolling to the right) with the Tip Jar showing up at the top below Recent Items while the recent comments, Econned link, blogroll, etc. are found at the very bottom of the page.

  12. Tim Mason


    Version 1 looks ok on an iPad. Version 2 is vile. For the moment, I’m preferring the present set-up, particularly as it seems to be easier to control text-size. On the mobile versions, reading is hard work for those of us who don’t have 20/20 eyesight.

  13. Thor Falk

    As for onswipe-style themes, I am not too partial about them. I have written about back in March when the WordPress iPad theme came out, and that – whilst being iCandy and fun to play with for at least 5min – just takes away the essentials of any blog (let alone that it is slow and makes the iPad crash all the time) http://thorfalk.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/wordpress-bloggers-please-disable-ipad-theme/

    I am not sure you need a special site for the iPad – regular websites tend to work very well on it. You can maybe think about making the navigation iPad-proof (eg menus that have drop-downs that would be activated by mouseover should not have a link at the top level as, at least on some sites, the action of dropping down the menu also activates the top link) but thats about it. The only thing that is crucially important is that your design is such that the “Reader” feature works (it does currently) which allows the reader at the click of a button to zoom in on the main part of the post (I hope your advertisers do not disagree with this…).

    For the iPhone / iTouch and whatever other phone-sized device this is different: there the small screensize makes a regular website difficult to navigate (even though because of pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-move it is nevertheless surprisingly painless even on more crowded sites like yours) and some more Zen design might work better. You might want to have a look at the WordPress mobile theme for iPhones. It linearises the site, ie all side-bar stuff comes below, which is good for readability, but you might or might not like it. My view here would be, as long as “Reader” works you are fine as well on the iPhone, but I am not sure on Android.

    So I guess my advice is: mobile sites might be a plus (if they are well done, but many of them are not), but they are not essential as long as your site is such that the “Reader” feature still works

    1. Thor Falk

      As an aside, I disagree with the gloom of your two experts in the main section. “The iPad is a different medium” – yes, if you want it to be then you can do amazing things with a tablet that you cant do on a regular computer. But it is a superset-medium if you like, ie pretty much everything you can do on a computer (in terms of reading a blog) you can do on an iPad as well. So you can do really fancy things and have all kind of image-video-whatever wizardy, but you dont have to. And if you reject the premise that you have to do this wizardry then you can also safely ignore the advice of having to have more pictures.

      As for “text-heavy is bad for a 10in screen”, this is just not right. I have read tons of books on the iPad and on the Kindle, both of which have a small screen. Now of course this gentleman is from your adservice, and his underlying statement might have been that “on a 10in screen it is difficult to make the text readable and at the same time place the ads”. With this I would agree – if you keep your site “Reader” friendly as I had suggested earlier then this has an impact on your advertising-efficiency

      @Kurt L: you should try the Instapaper app for that – loads the text of the websites into your iTouch / iPhone for offline reading

      @Lafayette: there is also the form factor. You might not always be in a position to comfortably open your laptop (eg in the subway, or in a boring meeting for that matter) but you can read stuff on your mobile device – they have other feature than simply being for “instant communication” (and in fact neither the iTouch nor the WiFi iPad are in fact for that purpose in any case, and they are still formidable mobile devices)

  14. CaitlinO

    Turquoise? What turquoise? I’m looking at a color my first super big box of Crayons used to call Burnt Orange.

    1. Valissa

      That’s my experience as well. The color I see is burnt orange, or perhaps some might call it terra cotta. I view this site from a laptop, either my larger at home one or my small travel notebook. I don’t like really small screens, and have decided not to buy any mobile devices as they are tough on my eyes with all the reading I do… so I can’t comment on any mobile version of this site. Good luck with it!

  15. bob

    I see no reason why vertical scrolling is “harder” than side to side, especially for long pieces.

    What the publishers are trying to do, again, is to define the page. The layout of the page is a huge variable right now, screens are not homogenous between computers and tablets. Even within “tablets” you have several different sizes and resolutions.

    The page layout is not defined. Until the page layout is defined, their is no way for the publishers to be able to “price” real estate. Location for ads, or content, can change between screens. In marketing, the location determines the “value” of the space on the page.

    The publishers are tying to push the TV model, homogenizing and the market around their rules, to their benefit.

    One final thought-

    Apple’s goal is a locked up vending machine that the customer pays for. They are succeeding.

  16. Kristina

    Using an HTC smartphone to view everything. The Onswype layout may be great for IPads, but it’s horribly cluttered for my little screen.

    As far as mobile versions 1 & 2, both aren’t bad, except for the horrible as bar that blocks the screen. A couple other websites I used to visit have those (Conde Nast), and the reading experience is so frustrating that I’ve quit visiting those sites.

    Your site is too text-heavy? Reminds me of certain TV shows that were canceled for being too “cerebral.”

  17. spc

    Version nr 1 looks cool !!! Fresh and modern.
    How about making it default for “Desktop” browsing !!??

  18. MDBill

    I tried using my Motorola Droid (original) phone and was able to bring up the two test sites in its browser. I was unable to resize the text with the normal pinching technique, but I’m nearsighted and was able to read the default size OK. But, honestly, when I want to read NC on my Droid (that’s not often), I’d prefer to use the Droid Google Reader app (RSS feed). I don’t get the comments that way, but it does let me read the item itself quite nicely.

    At least given my lifestyle, there are very few times when some flavor of non-mobile computer isn’t easily available. I understand the urgency to “mobilize” apps that offer restaurant suggestions based on geographic location and such, but for reading content such as NC’s, I just don’t get it. From my perspective, optimizing the comment software (preview, editing, HTML) makes a lot more sense.

  19. psychohistorian

    Since you are mostly textual, including comments, your site is counter to the advertising model funding mobile applications.

    I would just let folks use the existing web offerings and focus on content and other priorities.

  20. burnside

    As opposed to your tech-savvy reader, I look forward to some of the features latent in an iPad/tablet platform – pagination, proportional font, margin justification, and the smooth integration of HTML5 video components (when you use them – which you do).

    There’s no reason to presume tablets are unfriendly to text rich content. The makers of templates may indeed have a bias for visual components, but that does not describe the technical environment which is, after all, well-adapted as an easily portable reading instrument, and is used as such by publishers. To the end-user, it’s simply more compact, supports video playback, allows the visually challenged to create their own large print edition on the fly.

    I’m reminded of many earlier ‘innovations’ which sought to change how content providers approached new media. Most of the worst duds were those who were sucked into the code writers’ universe and perspective. Others just set about realizing what they wanted the medium to do, then persisted until they got what they preferred.

  21. Kevin Smith

    On my Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket [4.5″ screen] I can’t re-size either version by pinching; and I can’t scroll laterally to see the right hand part of the ad banner or the interstitial ads, which are occasionally worth looking at or clicking on.

  22. john bougearel

    Michael Whalen makes a persuasive case for a new distribution model for media content/content providers….in his post “A Tale of Two Economies, Michael Whalen on the Future of Media” — http://us1.institutionalriskanalytics.com/pub/IRAMain.asp

    In it he argues the new economy in media has to live under a “zero budget paradigm” and the challenge that lies ahead is how to distribute the content in 5 or 6 different kinds of media.

    NC falls into a content provider category, but it is not media content that lends itself well to visual content per se. The old saying “a picture tells a 1000 words” may aptly describe many facets of life, but it becomes a non sequitur when applied to NC. The risk to NC embracing templates heavily reliant on visual aids is the “1000 words” become either less relevant or irrelevant.

    Images are intended to distract, and misdirect. Too many images and most readers will be misdirected and distracted.

    I for one like the horizontal templates Sven has come up with. One advantage of using more width is the reader sees more at a glance, there is less need to use the scroll bar function. Our eyes can scan 5-7 inches wide effectively, and when the content is just 2-3 inches wide, much efficiency is lost, and our time is valuable….when readers cruise your site, it is nice to be able to do so in 5-10 minutes. But on days when we add comments and such, it can take more than an hour….

  23. ZeroInMyOnes

    Please choose carefully….For this reader your current site works just fine on an ipad. Your pages load quickly and I can easily zoom and scroll to read. Some of the software which are ‘optimized’ for mobile devices do not seem better. For example whatever Baseline Scenario is now using is very clunky..The home page loads VERY slowly, and the page turns are a weird fake ‘book flip’. If i go to Baseline Scenario I just wait for the home page to load, then switch to the standard site.

    This is just my opinion about iPad viewing, I am not sure how the experience is for someone reading on a smart phone screen…And thanks again for great writing here.

  24. kms

    iPhone, iPad user here. The example from your ad service is the easiest to read. Version 1 is alright too, but the bars on version 2 interfere with swiping on a small screen like a phone. Don’t listen to the people who tell you text-heavy is bad. Your readers like your content, and that won’t change if they decide to buy iPads. We like that you don’t fluff it up with extraneous content. What should be the driving force for your mobile app is offering content that is much easier to read on a small screen (most people will be using their phones) without losing the ability to comment or navigate easily.

  25. Tim Solanic

    Over thinking and priorities:

    I really think you’re, ahem, over thinking this Yves!

    Your content is king!

    Skippy is right: The….Mind behind….this_blog_is all that matters to me, of coarse guest post too.

    Speed on a mobile device, and a super easy layout is key.

    This is a great plug in for WordPress:

    I do not understand “but my ad service protested”.

    “Hate” would be too weak a word for the ad layout on the pc site and especially for the mobile mock ups. Sorry Franck!

    Maybe “designers” are pickier – but there are a bunch of sites who only serve up one ad, and they make a bunch of money on their sites.

    3 Examples:


    Stick with what you love – digging up the content and writing text.

    Kill all the ads except one or two max.

    Have a chat with me/us about how to generate more income serving a “jobs board” or another creative income stream.

  26. Dave M.

    Neither of these looks like an improvement to me, and I *only* read this site on my mobile. In particular the Recent Items section is cut off and unreadable inside that little box, and the Tip Jar is too big and prominently placed. (There’s nothing wrong with including it, just not there.) The site doesn’t really have any problems on my mobile as it is except that it’s too wide.

  27. Sock Puppet

    I’m reading the regular version and writing this comment on an android phone as I almost always do. My only beef is the load time and the ads which can float over the text. Blogger and wordpress have mobile friendly versions. Right column can be moved to a menu etc. Take a look at what other blogs do before spending the time or money on it.

  28. M.

    I’m no techy but apparently there’s a format that automatically shifts a website based on the device. The site can recognize the size of the display — PC monitor, tablet, phone — and adjust accordingly. You or your people may want to look into that. Ultimately, makes design and design decisions a little simpler and results in a clean look at any size.

  29. scepticalchymst

    Please don’t listen to the ad people. I, for one, like this text heavy site and am really turned off by the proliferation of formats like OnSwipe. They make it difficult to scan titles and get to what is actually interesting. And I have no trouble viewing the full site on my Windows phone. Will likely just stay with that.

  30. lambert strether

    Well, now I know why the powers that be are pushing pads and cells so much.

    Besides the rents, the medium makes complex analytical thinking more difficult. Why would they want that, I wonder?

    This is a very interesting set of requirements.

  31. bystander

    I have had little difficulty reading NC on my HTC Android phone, but I like the idea of reducing the number of vertical frames for mobile phone users.

  32. Iolaus

    I too read NC almost exclusively on my iPhone. (I’m typing this comment on an Apple bluetooth keyboard). Version 1 is just okay: I see no great leap up in readability or navigation. I can read text without clutter by using the Reader button at the top of the Safari browser; none of the mobile versions improve upon that. My only quarrel with the present setup is that I can’t read comments in the Reader.

    I think you can safely tune out anyone who uses the expression “text-heavy” in the discussion. They clearly don’t have a clue about what NC is and how it operates.

  33. Psychoanalystus

    I used to read NC a lot on a mobile device (iPhone). Now I read it mostly on the PC. However, I loaded the two mobile versions you provided, and here are my comments:

    Left/right margins are too wide on both versions, which takes away from the usable area and causes the font to be too small. And, since your mobile versions do not allow magnification (with 2 fingers), we are stuck with tiny, barely readable text.

    My remedy would be to either reduce the margins drastically to almost zero, or to allow the user to change magnification. In the absence of that, I would likely continue to read NC’s PC version even with the mobile device.

    And, one more thing: if your site “sniffs” mobile devices and automatically directs them to the mobile site, please retain a link to allow the user to go to the PC version even on a mobile device. Additionally, when the user made that selection (to read the PC version on a mobile device), please save that choice in a cookie on the mobile device, so that next time that mobile user visits, he is taken to the PC version automatically. A number of sites do this, including Bloomberg. Personally, I prefer to read the PC versions even with a mobile device.

    I hope this helps.

    BTW, prior to becoming a shrink I used to be a software engineer specialized in programming user interfaces and desktop publishing systems (DTP). As such I am greatly annoyed by these super-sized white margins when I see them. And I do see them often, usually in my students’ papers, when they are trying to make a short paper meet the minimum number of pages… :)


    1. JS

      +1 to every point

      Regarding your student’s wide margins, when I was in school we referred to such tactics collectively as “theme stretching”.

  34. The lives of others

    As an early adopter of iPad, ipad2 and windows tablets, I find that news apps that are specific for those tablets are a waste of time for those of us who are not interested in actors, athletes and other visually rich and content deficient sites.
    Having downloaded apps for the main news and blog channels, including science blogs, I only use web browsers, such as Safari, and others, to view the content. A word of warning: most sites include video that does not work on iPad, iPhone (Adobe flash).
    On the iPhone, however, because of the smaller screen, I use the apps rather than the browser.
    The above comments reflect the fact that most ipad apps do not provide all the content of the full website.
    I always read NC on my iPad.

  35. Vicky Else

    Yves–Version 1 was much better on my iPad. The scrolling was easy and there were no glitches. Version 2 had is weird gray bar that kept interrupting the scrolling. Hope this helps!

    1. ReaderOfTeaLeaves

      Plus, I prefer the V1nav bar w/ icons.

      Seeing same issue in V2 w/ footer floating over text.

      Like the orange dot on Comments in one of the versions that tells me #comments.

      Using iPad1 on iOS 5.

  36. JS

    Tried out both links on a 1-gen iPad.

    I prefer the first version. It presents information with the least bit of distraction. The person that suggested the “ad version” should be hanged.

    Please, please don’t go with the second version. While “clever” the floating buttons and invitations to “download the mobile version” are annoying visual clutter that represent the modern rehash of Web 0.1’s spinning icons and flashing text. As to “mobile versions” – why? We already have a standard interface – the web-browser. Why a custom app for every website? Just because you *can* doesn’t mean you should.

    “mobile” versions are about speed. I wind up downloading 10 MB per day from your site because iPad/iPhone’s tiny memory must re-download the full page again each time I follow a link. With a spotty connection, following each link is painful.

    Yves, thank you so much for the work you do. I and many like me come here daily because you present *information* like no one else… not because you have a flashy website. Please don’t become another one of those.

  37. Daniel

    Apparently your advertisers dont know your audience.

    The advertisers appear to be trying to get you to change the site to fit the trendy all fluff sites that have 300 word ‘articles’ surrounded by tons of advertisements.

    Your site and audience are not the typical flash in the pan ‘mobile’ audience.

    The quickest way to kill NC would be to try and conform to the fashion trends of the web that caters to some magical lowest common denominator audience that, quite frankly, doesn’t read the site or participate in the comments. NC is classier than that. NC readers are classier than that and put their money in support of NC continuing to cater to it’s actual audience.

    1. rotter

      The advertisers want to make money.period. they do not care about content or the readers.at all. To them content is a net and we are fish.

  38. Yearning To Learn

    On my iPad2: original NC site is fine as is. Version 1 may be minor upgrade if site loads faster, but pinch is a MUST. Bars on version 2 are terrible. On swipe has nothing to do with you. It is for people magazine. I’m insulted on your behalf.
    As others have said… User size manipulation of the font is a must.

    In my Evo android phone running froyo 2.2
    NC orig site is fine except load times.
    Version 1 may be a little nicer if pinch allowed.
    Version 2 doesn’t work at all. The bars jump all over obstructing your words.

  39. BenE

    My two cents. The best mobile sites are the ones that stick as closely as possible to the desktop versions. Otherwise it is confusing to have to deal with different features and idiosyncrasies when changing devices.

    All you really need is for a slightly bigger (could be configurable) fonts and bigger links and buttons (easier to touch with our fat fingers).

    If you really want a native app. Make it look like Reeder for iPad or the Google Reader App for Android. Try subscribing to your rss feed in Google Reader and then opening it in one of those two apps. It’s a great reading experience and the apps even sync posts for offline reading. Both these apps reduce distractions by focusing on the text and having a minimal user interface.

    It is probably not necessary to have a native app as your blog is already accessible in Reeder for iPad and Google Reader for Android. I was the one who suggested adding ads to your rss feed to make sure to monetize these channels. It is true that commenting is two steps away from the rss reader apps (you have to open the post in the browser and then go the comment section) but, writing comments on mobile devices’ onscreen keyboards is very difficult anyways. I usually wait to get to my desktop. Some blogs add a link to the comment section at the bottom of each rss posts for quicker access.

    Please do not go to an image heavy, animation or eye candy heavy format and please shun/fire whoever suggests this. That would be the end of this great site. Do not trust mobile advertising companies. I am an app developer and get weekly e-mails from ad companies with supposedly new and wondrous mobile ads technology that really just turn my products into spamming conduits (sometimes the more spammy side of their ads only appears after they have been installed for a while and they trigger their ‘optimizations’). Some of the less intrusive ones even managed to convince me to try their systems and it was always to monetary loss and reduced user base which in the long term would have ruined my business.

    I now only use established players (specifically Google Admob). With their sophisticated user profiling and targeting algorithms, they have consistently given me higher returns while being much less intrusive to my users. Happy users keep coming back and bring their friends. Of course Google uses big brother tactics to achieve their performance but that is another discussion…

  40. Sunny

    Dear Yves,

    Thank you for your blog. Keep up the great work!

    I’ve been reading your blog almost religiously every day on an iPhone for the past few months & would love to read your analysis on a fabulous mobile site. Sorry for the really long comment but I hope you find these useful for your mobile design.

    In addition to your blog, I also regularly read a few other blogs. Let me describe what I like & dislike about them.

    – Paul Krugman’s blog (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/):  it has the best phone-readability of all the sites I read daily. (1) Format (look & feel) is simple & uncluttered, (2) loads quickly (including the ads), (3) page is always current (unlike dKos’ mobile site as well as their unofficial iPhone reader app), & (4) several posts load with a single URL so I don’t need to navigate too much. (5) I wish the page wouldn’t refresh in Safari unless I tell it to, specially when i don’t have network connectivity, so please set your mobile site to NOT auto-refresh. (6) I don’t really comment much on his blog (or yours), so I can’t speak to the ease of submitting comments, but it’s generally hard on an iPhone. (7) I do often like to read the comments section (I guess I’m more of a reader than a contributor, but I suspect that makes me like most of your readers) & on his site it’s cumbersome because I have to navigate first to the comments page (which is ok) & then again to the Readers Recommended tab to find the comments worth my time…the two step navigation is slow & annoying..on your site there are usually fewer comments, so it should be unnecessary to navigate twice, but in case you expect to encourage more comments, PLEASE sort the comments by highest quality/recommended comments rather than chronologically by default. (8) Paul often posts music & other rich media & it’s a bit hit & miss on iPhone due to the lack of Flash support, but that’s an issue for Apple!

    Bottom Line : If you’re looking to simply make your site more usable for phone readers like me, then I would highly recommend a blog design/format like Paul’s blog page.

    – dailyKos mobile site (m.dailyKos.com): dKos tends to be much more (1) dynamic (continuous content updates from many users, vs. approximately 1-2 times a day on your blog), (2) interactive (diary recommendations, diary tips, comments, comment recommendations, & comment replies), & (3) democratic (i.e., lots of user generated content, not just site staff/frontpagers. The mobile page design is (4) very clean (headlines & short teasers) and (5) fast, but is (6) impossible to use without connectivity (unlike Krugman’s blog).  (7) Diary/comment recommendations & updates are disabled on the mobile page, which is probably good & (8) comment threads are collapsed to enhance readability, & (9) making comments is also not possible from the mobile site. My biggest problem with this site is that it’s (10) frequently down or (11) the content is stale, which is why I have been searching for an iPhone native app.

    Bottom Line:  If you want your mobile blog to evolve to be more interactive or dynamic, then please consider some of dKos’ capabilities, but please DO NOT build them on the dKos mobile site platform…and select ideas from the regular site.

    – Kossack Reader (unofficial) app for iPhone: this is a (1) very nice, clean design & (2) functionally is equivalent to the mobile site, (3) with the additional major benefit of being usable without connectivity (I.e., diaries are downloaded to the iPhone).(4)  However, again, content is often stale.

    Bottom Line: A simple, native app for iPhone (incl iPad), & another one for Android (phones+tablets) would be ideal IMHO, but maybe that’s an unfair comparison. Besides, it sounds like you have firmly decided against multiple apps, possibly to accommodate blackberry, nokia, window, kindle, etc. so it may be a moot point, but as a reader, the user experience with most native apps is MUCH better than almost any website accessed via the Safari browser on the iPhone.

    – Bloomberg iPhone app: great app. I wish there was a most recent/chronological view, but overall, an excellent representation of bloomberg’s regular website.

    – NY Times iPhone app: been a while since I used it (my personal boycott against their paywall), but the quality of the app was amazing!!!

    – CNBC, BBC, Yahoo, Yahoo-Finance iPhone apps: better than accessing those via iPhone-Safari, but overall these apps suck, probably thanks to the “experts” you mentioned in your post. Seems these apps are trying too hard to be multimedia & cutting-edge & feature rich, but IMHO they forgot the user experience & content.

    Now onto Naked Capitalism:

    – Current NC on iPhone (using Safari): I come here for (1) the high-quality content & have been putting up with minor annoyances to get it, including: (2) the pages load slowly, (3) have to click on 5-10 slowwwww links (due to the phone, not your server) individually to read your daily wisdom, (4) have to read only when I have connectivity because its almost impossible to download your posts before stepping out (5) often click on the wrong link because the page initially displays (really small) & then resizes after it’s fully downloaded, so my finger-click is often wrong, (6) I wish you had more non-paywall content everyday…thanks for limiting your use of WSJ, but I won’t be subscribing to FT anytime soon either…maybe this would be a cool area to experiment on user-generated or staff/intern-generated content, similar to what bobswern or gjohnsit do (or used to) on dKos, essentially summarizing & excerpting some important financial articles each day. (7) I like that there are only a few reader comments so they are readable, but their quality is quite poor & usually not worth my time. (8) dKos recently added a daily comics feature which I LOVE!  If you really must incorporate the input of your “experts”, then I would suggest adding a daily roundup of financial comics even if it is a bit low-brow. Maybe consider partnering up with the Slate comics pages & pick out the 3-4 subject areas which are relevant to you…I would read them, regardless of the interface medium (except Flash, of course :)

    Bottom Line: your specialty is the content…design a very simple mobile site which overcomes the annoyances I mentioned above & focus your time on continuing to deliver & improve the content/analysis.

    – NC draft Version 1 on iPhone (over WiFi): I’d rather use the current (desktop) site!!! Sorry to be harsh, but here’s my feedback for what it’s worth.  (1) The page loads in 2+ steps, a bunch of navigation buttons/icons with their labels, then just icons & no labels…not sure why it’s there because I don’t care about that navigation bar & I’m not going to memorize those icons in 3-6 seconds, nor in 3-6 years (2) then a simulated popup tells me to bookmark NC on my home screen (most sites use this trick to tell you there’s a better, native iPhone app available instead of just a mobile site, but here, there’s even less reason to have a simulated popup), (3) Ads, ads, ads…I know they pay the bills, but there’s NO ACTUAL CONTENT ON THE FIRST SCREEN (without scrolling down)!!! (4) After waiting for all the animations to end, then scroll down & find a short list of ONLY 5 headlines followed by more ads and then a tip jar  & then a bunch of PARTIAL stories followed by more ads & tons & tons of archival/administrative info.

    Bottom Line: If you’re willing to have such a long front page, why not put all your headlines at the top, followed by all the full posts below it (Please get rid of the Read More concept & the virtual popup & the 2+ stage page loading). Intersperse ads between posts or on one side & a tip jar plus the navigation links (with labels or preferably only labels) at the end of the page. That way, I only have to (slowly) load your main page once & can read all your analysis easily without all this clutter.

    – NC draft Version 2 on iPhone (over WiFi): better than version 1 but I’d still rather use the current (desktop) site!!! Again, sorry to be harsh.  (1) This page also loads in 2+ steps, a bunch of ads & the top of some headlines & a (useless) page footer (2) again a simulated popup tells me to bookmark NC on my home screen, (3) Again Ads, ads, ads…I know they pay the bills, but there’s LITTLE ACTUAL CONTENT ON THE FIRST SCREEN (without scrolling down)!!! (4) After waiting for all the animations to end, then scroll down & again find a short list of ONLY 5 headlines followed by more ads and then a tip jar  & then a bunch of PARTIAL stories followed by more ads & some archival/administrative info.

    Bottom Line: similar bottom line as version 1, plus make the “explore” bar truly at the end of the page so it doesn’t permanently hog 10-20% of my screen

    Hope this helps. Sorry for the un-sugar-coated frankness & the looooong comment. Feel free to email me if you have questions or would like additional feedback or clarification…I’d be glad to help a lot more if you think it would be useful.

    And please keep up the great work!

    1. Yearning To Learn

      PLEASE sort the comments by highest quality/recommended comments rather than chronologically by default

      A lot of good ideas from Sunny, a mobile user
      However: i’d prefer to keep comments as they are… chronologically and also replies indented.

      This way you know who is replying to whom, and one can get the flow of conversation.

      nothing I hate more than “highlighted” comment reading, which pulls everything out of order, and thus out of context. You also then open the door to a zerohedge type popularity contest where you get the “junkers” who can junk “unpopular” ideals to oblivion.

      if we ever get the numbers of comments on NC that we do on ZH or Krugman or Calculated Risk, then I may change my mind on this.

      but again: NC is a much more thorough format of ideas and also exchanges of ideas. temporal sequencing is important to that.

  41. MarcoPolo

    Version 1 seems to run most smoothly on my iPhone, but I have lousy service and what irks best is what loads fastest.

  42. OC

    Hi Yves, a first post from a long-term reader and supporter.

    Please don’t pay too much attention to the latest design fads – a lot of it seems to be “well they would say that wouldn’t they”. You don’t follow the herd, and you expect your readers to have a reasonable attention span – please don’t lose sight of that when it comes to design. Also don’t forget the millions of people who happily deal with “text-heavy” content on their Kindles etc.

  43. hilzoy

    Tablets are a new form — meh. This would be relevant if you were wondering, ex nihilo, what sort of blog to create and then present on an iPad. But you aren’t. You have a perfectly good site with a committed following, and you are trying to figure out the best way to make it accessible to people with iPads. Altering the whole nature of the blog to accomplish this would be crazy.

    Is this blog supposed to be turquoise? All the links, titles, etc. have always been sort of orange for me …

    1. Yearning To Learn

      The Tablet is a product created to sell us yet another thing, when we already have PCs and laptops and smartphones ad nauseum.

      There are very very few ways in which a Tablet is better than a PC IMO. It’s just “popular” just like beanie babies were.

      The iPad was specifically made for a site like NC. There is no need for an ap, because the iPad itself IS the ap for a site like NC.

      other sites do benefit from an ap (like real estate sites, and sites like Expedia, not to mention Zynga garbage) but that’s because those sites don’t work on the iPad.

      as for turquoise: everything is orange on my screen too, unless I’ve clicked it and then it turns baby blue.

  44. Paul Tioxon

    I agree with the demographic makes the media message. NC does not have to have pictures, that is why Kindle was developed to begin with, it is a reader for text primarily, books and of course, now magazines, newspapers, once they got their platform issues to work with native software.

    Trial and error. You are heading into a broader based media, mobile, for people who are not stuck at a desk with a tower, but just the very easy to carry around and lay on the couch and read tablets as well. Also, you will no doubt come up with ideas on what to publish to raise the visual content contributions to a regular feature status. e.g. RSA animations, community video lectures. A younger audience, and even people as old as I am, may well appreciate some of the added content ala Huffington Post.

    Imagine everyday, a video clip or even long lecture broken up over a 5 day span for consumption.

  45. Drew

    Here are the facts that form your decision making context :
    1. You do not have the resources to develop, deploy, and support your content customized for each specific platform.
    2. For the foreseeable future mobile and PC users will outnumber tablet users.

    In this context it makes sense that you would prioritize creating a mobile platform that well serves readers accessing via mobile phones.

    As some of your advisors have noted, the most popular iPad content has been deployed as highly graphic, interactive native apps. However, the same approach to deploying on a mobile phone can be completely unusable.

    So, rather than designing for the iPad user and shoe-horning it onto mobile phones designing for mobile phones with IPad user sentiment in mind would seem like the better approach.

  46. Imcynic

    You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. I’ve been reading
    NC for the last two years on both my iPhone and iPad with no problem.I’ve found tht some of the apps coming out and being used by MSM sites are too restrictive……they have more control over what you see.Give it another couple of years and then reconsider .

  47. bloodnok

    version 1 ain’t bad. version 2 is unusable thanks to the top and bottom bars disappearing then repainting themselves when you try to scroll. also both suffer from too much navigation chrome at the top, forcing you to scroll down to get to content. content should be displayed first.

  48. Constantnormal

    If you’re looking for mobile access users, then I think you have to go with what the web data tells you, and I believe that shows a pretty heavy bias toward iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, and iPods).

    That said, under the current release of the iOS software (and one would be nuts to target the past), the Safari Reader facility works fine on the articles in either of the “mobile” variants, as well as the main nondenominational web page.

    The only reason I can see for even doing a mobile version would be if you tended to rely on a lot of flash content, which you (thankfully) do not.

    My two cents on the subject.

  49. pepe le moko

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    I see from the comments that many have said this before. The site works fine as is on my phone. I use my phone a great deal for browsing. If you add a mobile site, please make it optional because I WILL SHUT IT OFF permanently if given the option. The last thing this site needs is another maintenance headache. Concentrate on your excellent analysis.

    On reflection I do have a technical suggestion: make the whole site white on a black background. This will piss off the design weenies ( who might leave ) and bring the focus back to the topic.

    Good job with the site.

    Keep up the good work,
    Pepe Le Moko

  50. Eureka Springs

    As my favorite old southern friends and relatives used to say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. I just purchased my first smart/iphone.. this week and found you and moonofalabama the simplest format, easiest to read and navigate of all my favorite must read sites.

  51. Glen

    I’ve loaded the two versions onto my somewhat dated hand-me-down “Donut” Android phone, and they look OK, but it’s very SLOW. (The wife and daughter get the nice smartphones.)

    Honestly, I don’t use my smartphone much for viewing web content. I still like having a desktop PC at home with a bigger monitor – this is mostly for doing my post processing DSLR photo work so the monitor is big and color corrected and it’s gotten a fresh upgrade to a six core CPU and lots of fast memory. Works great for web browsing.

    I haven’t thought about getting a tablet for personal use since I bike commute to/from work quite a bit, and carrying more heavy crap just isn’t a high priority, but I am looking hard at how to integrate smartphone and tablet technology into our workplace (we’ve used older tablet technology for implementing functional testing for ten+ years – works good) and find the smartphone technology fusion to be a delight.

    As for the two sites – I have to agree with others above – content is king. Concentrate on the content and find competent tech people to put the content out there, pay attention to reader input, and it will all sort itself out.

    Of the two versions, I would have to give the nod to version one, but again, I don’t expect to use my smartphone for serious web browsing – it’s just too slow

  52. Abe, NYC

    For starters, I am fundamentally against treating iPad as a mobile device. Its screen size and resolution are far closer to laptops than cellphones, and it’s usually perfectly capable of displaying a site in its native look.

    Cellphones, that’s another story. I personally view most NC posts through offline RSS (no cell signal on NYC subway), but there are no comments there. And I would certainly appreciate a lite version of the site that could be easily browsed on my cellphone. But I think you can optimize a site for tablet, or a cellphone, but not both at the same time.

  53. Dameocrat

    Version one formated worse on my env3 with opera mini than the regular site. When I clicked the text in did not reformat to fit the screen, when it was not clicked it was too small.

    Version two formatted perfectly. Seems to me like ipad users can just use the regular website so why do so many feel a need to give input since those are not mobile phones. They are just keyboardless laptops.

    you can download a virtual cellphone to run opera mini from your desktop. http://ariefew.com/internet/microemulator-opera-mini-mod/

    the android emulator will also run on it.


  54. Cujo359

    I think you should stick with how you feel best presenting things. I present things a bit more graphically, and I try to use white space and tables when it’s appropriate. I do that partly because I’m used to writing technical articles, software, and engineering documents. But that’s me writing things I write about.

    1. Cujo359

      P.S. The second link is nothing but a blank screen for me. I’m using Firefox, and I have Javascript turned off by default. One thing I would suggest is that you make sure that your readers always can read your content with JS turned off. Scribd doesn’t do that. I hate having to deal with Scribd content.

  55. Wade Leftwich

    Yves –

    I am a web application developer and have helped build more sites than I care to think about right now — which means my opinion is pretty much as good as most people’s.

    For a mobile site you want to keep things super simple — especially since most of your articles will be multi-screen.

    Either main.html or main2.html could do the job fine, though the nav menu at the top is unlikely to be used much. Main2 had a strange little link hovering on the right side of my screen (Motorola Droid classic), that turned into a strange little blot when I clicked it.

    nytimes.com and salon.com both do an excellent job on their mobile sites, so you might consider stealing some ideas there. I certainly would.

    As for the ipad-specific app, don’t bother. Maintaining another codebase just for one platform isn’t worth the overhead. That’s especially true for your site. You don’t need eye-candy to help draw new readers — the Antidotes Du Jour already do the job there.

  56. Can't Make an Omelette

    I’m glad to see you approaching this with some disdain and worry: “What concerns me more fundamentally is that this medium seems to be hostile to what this site is about, which often is deep digging into complex topics.” I think this is really interesting as a larger point. It raises the question: great, so why even do it then?

    The answer is, to get traffic and reach people where they are, with the substance of what you do. And every blog or journalism group or online paper worries about circulation and getting seen, but I’m glad you’re critiquing the damn thing at the same time. Most journalistic websites and whatnot, they have these posts or references to their mobile and other auxiliary presence, but I don’t often seeing them expressing an anxiety about how the medium could have its own demands, contours, biases or powers-that-be. They usually talk about it in analysis-free promo-speak: “Be sure to check us out on Twitter….”

  57. molten_tofu

    Just to preface, I work in digital advertising / site optimization consulting and on the side do web development work (me and a thousand other kids my age, it seems…). Anyways, I try to read everything on the net through the RSS reader on my phone – so by extension I read Naked Capitalism almost exclusively on my phone.

    Anyways, here are my thoughts and suggestions:

    Mobile content needs to load fast and it needs to be light and uncluttered. Counter to the industry obsession, avoid pictures and any kind of rich media and even buttons that are images (for example, I would drop those nav buttons in example 1 and use text instead. It’s hard to use symbols in place of text – only a few really are faster to comprehend than text: print, save, etc).

    People say yes to pictures, etc, because it seems that most people (especially who develop / design for the internet) have a test-to-destruction approach: they are always tapping out computing and bandwidth resources of their users for the next great bit of animation or video or something (which frequently only ads marginal value to the consumption of the *content*).

    In my humble opinion this lust for fanciness destroys the user experience. On my morning commute I read or scan several hundred articles through RSS and I star the ones I like. When I hit a station I can get a signal in (there are a couple), I quickly flip over to the starred list of articles and try to load one that seems interesting. Of course, I’ve learned which of my favorite online sources has *fast* mobile access, and so I gravitate to those articles because I know they will load before the train pulls out of the station.

    Also, this is probably way out of scope for NC, but are there any server solutions that can alter the stack of HTTP requests for a page based on connection speed? So on slow connections, critical content is always served first? I would have no idea how this would work, but what is with those websites that load ads and images before text on mobile???

    I’m also hearing a lot of “mobile is this mobile is that”. Two things: I think this conversation has already gotten way more complicated than it needs to be based on the advice you’ve been receiving, and two I don’t think mobile users at large are a representative sample of potential Naked Capitalism mobile users.

    Sure mobile has presented all these wild ways of turning your phone into wallet with GPS, etc, but what’s strictly applicable here are some simple design choices to be made such that reading (and perhaps commenting on) posts is easier (maybe only even *slightly* easier – don’t have to win the whole game on round 1!).

    So to my point about dealing with readers of Naked Capitalism, I think all this talk of visualizing the content more etc etc flies in the face of what clearly works for this community. Just make something simple and snappy, and you’re good to go.

    Finally, given that I actually use RSS, I’m guessing I’m a representative sample of basically nobody at this point. But even if people are relaxing at home on their ipad 2s on wifi, I think they still crave page load speed in a big way.

    My girlfriend takes the app approach to consuming NYTimes content, for example, and she’s always the most aggravated by slowness and fancy stuff (aka everything except text and links) not working. I’ve yet to hear from her anything like “good article but not enough interactive rich media custom tailored to my device’s form factor”.

    Great bunch of people that love to obsess about these questions:

    I like this article about levels of mobile support:

    And this one, for fun:

  58. Athos

    The site already works fine with iPads. The most important change you could make would be to allow posts to expand and be read in full without reloading. See Salon, The Dish and many others.

  59. Joe Buck

    Please, if you do a mobile site, don’t make it a crippled site, where links to important articles fail because the web designer thinks of mobile phones as crippled text-only devices instead of as powerful computers with small screens. It has to be possible to get to all the content. Certainly you can optimize layout: think of the style of a newspaper, where articles are set in narrow columns. But don’t do what salon.com does, and give mobile phones only the leading articles while breaking the interface to letters and other features.

    One option is to give mobile phones the option of just being served the regular site, with no adjustments. Even if not optimized for the device, this at least lets people have all of the content.

  60. WndlB

    What Athos says. The present site is frustrating on an Android 2.3 (Honeycomb) smartphone, and I really would like to see something like m.ft.com for smartphones.

    As for iPads, Santa’s bringing me a Kobo Vox (7″ diagonal screen, same as Kindle Fire and B&N Nook Tablet). (All of those run some permutation of Android 2.3 Honeycomb as well.) Just fired the Vox up to test the site as is and in the two versions shown. Version 1 is OK; version 2 kept showing the Aurora Advisors bar every time I scrolled, which was kind of annoying. But neither, for this, seemed needed: expanding the text part and, if necessary, turning the device over to landscape is a perfectly readable experience. MUCH better than on the smartphone.

    That, plus what Athos said, is all that is needed.

  61. R

    Yves, if you’re still seeking feedback of this type – I reviewed the mockups on an Android 2.2 device, and #2 was more approachable and useful (e.g., content closer to right there in your face). However, it also slowed my browser to a crawl in a way that nothing else does on my phone. I think maybe the hovering footer bar (currently a copyright notice) is overkill for a mobile setup like this.

    And to address some criticism of the merits of putting a long-form blog in format for a mobile device – I think it’s a great idea and not at all counter-intuitive. Perhaps most mobile browsing is a breezy, “on the go” sort of thing without the deep consideration this blog deserves, but not all of it. For instance, I take a train twice a day and I suppose I COULD spool up several pages of blog on my laptop to read during my commute (and stranger things have happened), but it’s so much more convenient to read on my phone. Even though I would rather read something insightful and long-form.

  62. H. Alexander Ivey

    My two bits (really one bit Sing)

    I have read NC on laptops, Nokia 97 HP, and now Samsung Tab 7, and I don’t care about having a “mobile” NC site. I read this site for the content, not the pics! (sorry about the slur for the picture of the day). Load time is not a problem to me, loaded the site from broadband, telecoms data packets, and wireless. I was, and am, always patient to wait – the ad people are wrong, IMHO. Frankly, if you had a mobile site, I would ignore it. I have ignored other websites “mobile” pages in the past and I expect to ignore them in the future. I applaud your cobbler’s children approach and simply say: Carry on, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. There’s financial news to be reported!

  63. Fraud Guy

    Tried both on iPhone…and greatly preferred current web version.

    I’m looking for the story, and not the presentation. The current web previews are more than enough to draw me in, but the view on the options highlighted links rather than the articles.

    And I’m reading for the articles, not the pictures.

  64. Charles Yaker

    THis may sound trite but “reading is Fundamental” . Version 1 is prefarable to Version 2 on iPad but Safari, especially with reader is prefarable to both. Whit reading as apposed. To visual I control the speed and can scan even interviews. With multi media I am controled. With regard to adds. I know you need tham but you support OWS and while it’s hard to get an actual read on what thay want but comercialization isn’t it. What we need is a new payment method . As for Mobile apps none of them are any good even the new facebook app doesn’t allow sharing so when I want to share I have to switch to Safari.

  65. benf

    hey yves, check out sencha touch and jquery mobile. this is the standard way mobile websites are made and are used by pretty much everyone – businessinsider, etc. very large capabilities. i have personally used them and can vouch for their effectiveness, sleekness, and ease of use. i recently built an app and mobilw site using them for a startup named Storably. also for wireframming, i suggest using Balsamiq – it’s also powerful, easy and mirrors the interfaces typically used with mobile devices. let me know if you need help(i guess you can find my mail at the above) i would be happy to advise. i currently do software engineering for comcast, including mobile.

  66. Still Above Water


    I’m a daily reader, mostly on an iPad 2, sometimes on an iPhone 4S, very rarely on a Win7 desktop. Since I have fast CPUs and (usually) high bandwidth, I don’t need or want a mobile version of your blog. Others with older phones and/or Edge connections may prefer it, though.

    All I ask is that you don’t assume that a reader on a mobile device wants the mobile version of your blog. Please make sure there is a preference cookie so that I don’t have to click for the “full version” of your site every time I visit it. Thanks!

    BTW, the most annoying thing to me about “mobile” versions is that they usually don’t have scalable text. At 49, I like text to be as big as possible!

  67. Mobile Websites

    We are a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with useful info to work on. You have performed a formidable job and our whole neighborhood shall be grateful to you.

Comments are closed.