We recently came across an amazing study completed by “Usability Guru” Jakob Nielsen, called “Mobile Site vs. Full Site”. The article Nielsen composed has caused a bit of controversy in the mobile and development world and we at brick&mobile firmly stand behind Nielsen’s findings.
To summarize, the report in Nielsen’s words: “Good mobile user experience requires a different design than what’s needed to satisfy desktop users. Two designs, two sites, and cross-linking to make it all work.”
We completely agree with Jakob’s premise that a single site cannot serve the wants and needs of both mobile and desktop users. Yes, there are sites that go against this paradigm, but for every one of those sites, there are dozens of sites that follow his philosophy. This is especially true of sites transacting millions of dollars on mobile devices (just look at most travel and retail eCommere sites). Why is this? The reason is multi-fold:
First, they are simpler to develop and maintain (yes, segregating mobile from desktop is actually easier and cheaper to maintain – this is true because test cycles are shorter and changes/enhancements are easier).
Second, they are faster (mostly because servers can concentrate on delivering mobile content as opposed to deciphering and segregating content at runtime. People who advocate CSS to make content mobile friendly have obviously never developed large enterprise mobile sites) – for the record, we have developed large enterprise mobile (custom) sites and there are about a thousand smaller mobile sites successfully running on our Mobile CMS platform.
Third, most users prefer the easy-to-navigate mobile sites (yes there are a few users to actually prefer to pinch and zoom on their larger-format Android devices – for these users, mobile sites usually simply have a “switch to desktop” link)
We highly recommend that you take the time to read Nielsen’s findings in full which can be found here: Mobile Site vs Full Site – Jakob Nielsen