Kill the Mobile Specific Sites

Back in the day, and I'm talking about five or six years ago, large content sites would have a mobile specific version of their site. Usually a mobile device would hit their normal www.contentsite.com page and quickly get redirected to mobile.contentsite.com. It was a good work around — four years ago.

Take Businessweek, a large content producer with lot's of technology people to make things happen. When you browse their site on a desktop or larger screened device you get:

If you browse to the same article on a mobile phone you get something like this:

It seems responsive but it's not. It's just a whole different site you were routed to with a few lines of code.

So what would happen if a person on their phone were to share the link of the mobile page with someone that ends up navigating to the link on a desktop device?

You end up with a 27" monitor full of text vomit!!!!!

If you don't think the scenario is likely you are missing the whole social media boat. The example provided happened this morning as I was browsing my twitter feed. Tim O'Reilly tweeted the link. He probably read the article on his phone. I was coding away at my desktop when I picked it up. If you are going to get the link juice of someone like Tim O'Reilly with 1.7 million followers why are you wasting it by sending a large chunk of his followers to ugly town.

There is one hack fix to get Businessweek back on track. Whatever method they have chosen to put on the www.businessweek.com site could also be put on the mobile.businessweek.com site only modify the rules to detect desktop like clients and route them back to the www site. Should take someone less than an hour and the problem is solved. It will probably take more time to get the change approved than to do the work.

The other option, the best option, is to code up their www.businessweek.com site resposively. Ethan Marcotte wrote up the standard referenced article Responsive Web Design back in May of 2010 so surely Businessweek should be able to find a few people that can help them with the conversion, they probably even have them in-house.

It may seem like a daunting task but really they have already created the styles for the mobile breakpoint and the desktop breakpoints they are just deployed to completely different web sites.

Today, all sites should be designed and developed responsively. Anyone who wants to convince you that having two seperate mobile and desktop sites is stuck in the past.