Mobile Friendly Websites Done Wrong

My first mobile internet experience was as disappointing as it can be. I have to confess, though, that it happened on a Nokia N70, a handset you can barely call a “smartphone” (although, by definition, it was – it had an operating system, a file system, and was capable of connecting the internet). Back in the day I couldn’t even dream to play the best online video games  – I was glad if the monster (that’s what I called my phone) was able to retrieve a website in text mode.

My first mobile internet experience was disappointing, and it made me ignore the whole thing for years. After a while I switched from my outdated smartphone (!) to a much fresher dumbphone (you know, the type that doesn’t know anything but wake me up in the morning, play MP3 and initiate and receive calls and text messages) and I was happy with it for over a year. Than I laid my hand on my current phone – a Nokia Lumia 620 – and things have changed a lot. I have suddenly become a guy who prefers to use his smartphone to access any website. And I started noticing the flaws of mobile web design as we know it today.

There are some things website owners, designers and developers use today that can make a smartphone user’s life a living hell.

On my desktop I use a clever browser add-on that blocks several types of JavaScript popups – meaning that overlays telling me to like, share, subscribe, tweet, follow, engage, and whatever else they might want are not bothering me at all. Unfortunately there is no such add-on for mobile browsers – I have tried Opera, Internet Explorer and several of its alternatives on Windows Phone, but to no prevail. Such overlays appear out of nowhere, and their close buttons ignore taps in 90% of cases. These must disappear.

Another thing that makes me lose my temper is an embedded video that plays automatically when it’s loaded. This is not a mobile specific issue – it has annoyed me for years on desktop, too – but on mobile it’s much more serious. You see, my dear web designers and developers, a video stream consumes bandwidth. When I’m on WiFi it’s not a problem, but whenever I am forced to use my data plan, your autoplay can cost me a serious amount. Not to mention that it’s not ethical to force your video content down my throat, without asking me if I am curious about it or not.

Finally allow me to mention the one thing that makes me hate browsing on my mobile phone sometimes – websites that are not mobile friendly. Unfortunately, although the number of mobile devices accessing the internet has exceeded that of desktops, many blogs and websites simply ignore their public. This is bad for them – visitors will move on, seeking for more considerate alternatives – and bad for us, mobile users, as they are wasting our time. Google has come up with a solution – it favors mobile friendly websites in its mobile search results. Now it would be time for designers, developers and website owners to get the message and start adapting to their visitors’ needs – after all we are the ones who click on your ads and buy your products. Basically we are the ones paying for your cars, your kids’ college expenses, and everything else you buy – it would be time for you to adapt to our needs.

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