The BBC News website’s mobile version is the most frequently visited site on UK mobile phones. The BBC has had a mobile presence since 1999 and its experience shines through in the current news site, which easily meets mobile users’ needs – whether it’s reading up on the economic crisis or getting the latest Brangelina gossip.
Mobile-optimised versions of websites are easier to use on phones and many organisations have one. The BBC has gone a step further and created two (plus another for PDAs). Mobiles vary greatly on screen size and internet connection speeds, so by having versions of its site for devices with different levels of sophistication, the BBC can cater for all phones.
The site makes good use of space by positioning headlines at the top of the homepage so users can access the day’s main stories without having to scroll.
Similarly, on story pages there’s only a simple breadcrumb at the top and all other links and navigation tools come after the story.
On touchscreen phones with large screens, like the iPhone, the site generally makes good use of space. However, on some pages the links to stories are presented too close to each other and users could easily press the wrong link. Adding a summary of the story beneath each link would help spread these links apart.
The BBC could also consider writing a news reader application for devices such as the iPhone and Google’s Android platform, similar to that from the New York Times. These download stories to the phone and then allow users to read stories when they don’t have an internet connection. Users can also personalise the application to give easy access to the news sections they’re most interested in.
But overall, BBC News Mobile is a great example of a well-designed mobile website.
Abid Warsi, senior user experience consultant at Webcredible