I clicked through a link to TechRepublic on my phone earlier and was greeted with a banner about some site changes. Cool.
I read the first line or two and scroll to get to the content. This message doesn’t pertain to me.
It doesn’t go anywhere.
The content scrolls behind it.
There will be no reading this article. (Yes, I could use “reader view”, that’s not the point.)
I’m assuming that at least 50% of their traffic comes from mobile, based on typical internet usage and site metrics. I’m being conservative with this estimate since it is a tech focused site and therefore might cater to an audience more likely to own and use laptops and desktops to consume content like this. Realistically, this could be more like 70%+.
Making a few more assumptions, this is how the banner reads to me:
As we work to improve this website for a minority percentage of users that actually login to and participate in our forums, pay for our premium version, or otherwise engage with our content in any way beyond reading it, some of our services will be unavailble from some time between now and the future. For those of you visiting on a mobile device, we don’t care enough about you to open this on our own phone to see what it looks like so just leave until we’re done and then come back to this article, if you remember. Or don’t. It’s whatever really. If you’re still reading this, we’ll thank you for things like “support” and “patience” and other emotions you probably aren’t feeling but this makes us feel good and we’ve already established we’re not too worreid about you. Also, we need some way to wrap this up.
Spoiler alert: it works fine on desktop.
If I’m half-remembering some graph I saw once right, there are more smartphones in use than there are people on the planet. Or adults. Or something along those lines. It really doesn’t matter. The point is, there are a whole lot of phones that connect to the internet being used by a whole lot of people.
I can’t say the same about more traditional computing devices.
Test your experience on mobile.
Google doesn’t even really care what your non-mobile site is like. Now, you may not use Google or care what it thinks (it’s a company/algorithm, it can’t really think anyway), but that should be a signal.
OPEN YOUR SITE/APP/EXPERIENCE/NEWSLETTER/PRODUCT/THING ON A PHONE.
TEST IT ON A PHONE.
DESIGN IT FOR PHONES.
I get it, if you (like me) work in the digital/internet realm, you probably have some nicely equipped piece of high technology with a comfortably-sized screen and/or one of 123,763 ways to use a jumbotron as an external display. If that describes you I have a nugget I’d like to share, you aren’t the “normal user”. You aren’t “average”.
When someone asks “what does the user want?”, if you know how to code or design stuff for other people to code or work for a company that caters to those people, they probably aren’t asking what you want. You aren’t “the user”.
So please, for the love of all things internet-connected, check what your thing looks like on your phone before you leave for the weekend.
(opens this site on phone to check before publishing)
Pro tip: if you want to go the extra mile, open it in a browser like Firefox Focus with a bunch of privacy features enabled and see what it’s like. I regularly find sites with navs and other features that are non-functional in this browser.
Double pro tip: you could probably stand to make your text bigger.
[img description: I’ve included an animated gif to this post showing a screen recording of what I saw on the site. An orange banner discussing the upcoming changes, dates of outages, and standard “excuse our mess” style messaging takes up approximately 2/3 of the screen. It does not disappear or minimze as you scroll. Accounting for other items taking up screen real estate (site header, time and battery status, address bar, etc) I’d guesstimate I am left with 1/10 of my screen to try to read the article on.]