Sometimes the best way to figure out what works is to see what doesn’t. That’s the thinking behind WTF Mobile Web, a new site that tracks examples of terrible mobile web design and user experience. Whether it’s a “native look” that inevitably looks wrong on all but one platform or simply treating the iPad as a mobile browser, WTF Mobile has plenty of examples of what not to do when developing a mobile site.
WTF Mobile Web is the brainchild of developers Jen Simmons and Brad Frost who are careful to note that the point isn’t to be mean or pick on specific sites. In fact, perhaps the best part about the site is that, as people were quick to point out, it’s guilty of some of the very same things it’s calling out in other sites. Hypocrisy? Sure, but it also illustrates just how hard it is to get mobile right.
As Simmons and Frost write:
The problem is that we’ve all been doing this thing called Making a Website for a long time in a particular way. And now everything is changing. Sure some developers are resistant to learning new things, but most developers are interested, excited and willing. But this isn’t a problem that you can fix by just switching out which bit of code to use. It’s bigger than that. Content strategy, design, business all have to change. The fundamental way in which people work together to plan and coordinate the creation of a website has to change.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that, to paraphrase developer Steven Hay, there is no mobile web, no desktop web, no tablet web. There is just The Web, which we view in different ways. Design for The Web, avoid assumptions about devices (like assuming the iPad is a mobile device) and please, stop with the “native” designs.
If you run across an example of bad mobile design you can submit it to WTF Mobile Web.
So how do you build better mobile sites? Well, WTF Mobile Web has a few links to get you started, including one to Frost’s Building a Future Friendly Web slideshow, which we’ve covered before. Webmonkey has also been covering mobile and responsive design for some time so be sure to read through our archives.
WTF? photo by Daniel Lobo/Flickr/CC