1st Rule of Mobile Web UX – Detect The Device

Some companies spend too much time and money on mobile apps; and not enough time considering their mobile web presence. (See Scott Jensen’s thought-provoking Mobile Apps Must Die for reasons why mobile web is arguably more important.)

When you’ve built a mobile version of  your website (congratulations!), the first UX rule to observe is: detect the device and offer a link to an alternative.

I had a strange experience today when I was viewing the design portfolio of Dublin digital agency Kooba.

One of their portfolio projects was the HSE’s official information site about breastfeeding. I clicked the link and thought the site looked rather strange. After a couple of minutes, however, I noticed the link to the desktop site, and everything made sense.

So, Kooba had indeed implemented Rule number 1 – Detect the device, but also Rule number 2 – Link to the alternative

There is another good reason to link to the alternative. Users sometimes want the ‘full version’ of the site. For example, on the mobile version of Facebook or Twitter, due to space restrictions, fewer features and functions are offered.

But users may nevertheless want to access the desktop versions. For example, I am sometimes willing to endure the full-version pain of a site I use to find flights, SkyScanner, even when using it from a mobile. Why? Because the mobile version doesn’t allow me to search the flight dates for an entire selected month, a feature available in the desktop version.

Maybe the ‘select entire month’ feature should be in the full version. Ultimately, however, some features will have to be omitted.