Reactions to my 'shift to mobile is revolutionising online news design' Media Briefing piece

 by Martin Belam, 3 November 2010

There was quite a bit of reaction to my article on The Media Briefing last week: "How the shift to mobile is revolutionising online news design".

Clive Page commented on the piece, suggesting that a lot of the 'clutter and furniture' I'd mentioned - like a list of 15 most read stories and navigation to 100 other parts of the website, were there on news sites just as much for SEO purposes as for the reader:

"It is interesting to see the effect that Mobile has on SEO. Maybe it is another death knell for SEO as we know it"

Steve Earley picked up the post on Journalism lives, observing that:

"It's remarkable how much newspapers look like their parents. And grandparents. And great grandparents. With their medium in its second generation, a similar thing is happening now with news Web pages."

He thinks that a move towards designs that facilitate consumption on smallscreen devices would be a good thing for the industry:

"For newspapers and other legacy media organizations this is the best possible news. It's a back to basics approach that rewards their core values of editorial efficiency, consistency and quality."

John Bethune, writing at, also saw the potential move away from desktop-centric designs as a positive thing:

"Back in July, I wrote in this blog about how Reader, a new feature in Apple's Safari browser, called attention to the proliferation of clutter in most Web page layouts. My hope was that tools like Reader and its peers, Readability and Instapaper, would encourage cleaner Web design."

He wonders how this new mobile design influence will play out:

"Though he doesn't quite say it, Belam strongly implies that the design habits required of mobile content producers will spread to Web producers. The mechanism behind this influence is unclear, but I'd guess it has something to do with readers' preferences. Faced with a choice between the clutter of the Web and the simplicity of mobile, they will choose mobile. And as that trend accelerates, Web designers will respond with simpler, streamlined designs."


Agreed. I'm a strong believer that 'less is more' when it comes to user interface. The reason Apple is doing so well is not because they have superior products, but because they've simplified the computing experience. It's inevitable that the web will adopt much of the simplicity of mobile devices

In my opinion the rise of mobile phones will definitely push both private websites and social communities like Facebook, Hi5 etc. back to the "roots" of minimal design, no flash and no bannerfarming. It won't take long and you'll be able to surf the Internet even with your Amazon Kindle... Google also ranks fast-loading websites better so that in future we'll see an increase in these primarily text-based web 2.0 sites!

There is clearly a reciprocal relationship between ease of use of mobile devices and their share of the browsing spectrum. Currently, I believe only 4% of US websites provide a smart phone-friendly browsing experience. This, I think, will lead to even greater simplification of websites (or at least their mobile-friendly versions) to enhance their popularity/usability/commerce with mobile web browsers.

Keep up to date on my new blog