12.10.2012

User Experience Matters

For business and technology news and information, there are two mobile web sites, among others, that I regularly visit and read, Mashable and Business Insider. While both sites offer similar content and are formatted for the mobile screen, Mashable's user experience (UX) is far superior, in my opinion, than Business Insider's UX. Why? Let's take a closer look.

Business Insider's UX
When a user lands on Business Insider's mobile website, they are shown about 10 articles on the screen. At the bottom of the first page, as well as subsequent pages, there is a "More..." button which, when touched, launches the next page of articles. Not terribly painful, but once the user decides to actually read an article this is when the UX falls a part.

When a user selects an article off the second, third, fourth, etc., page, and then exits the article, the user is brought back to the site's home page. Ouch! If the user wants to get back to where he/she left off scrolling through articles, they have to scroll down to the bottom of the home page, touch on "More...," and keep doing this on all subsequent pages, until they find their way back to where they left off.  Not an ideal way to have to access and read content.

At the bottom of each page there is often a banner advertisement to contend with. Some of them shift in size and get in the way of the last article.

Mashable's UX
Until recently, Mashable's site operated in a similar manner as Business Insider, but now it is much different and much improved. When the user enters Mashable's mobile site, the user has the ability to scroll through articles until the cows come home. Seriously. There is no need to press a "More..." button from one page to the next.

When a user selects an article and then exists the article, they are brought back to the same spot they jumped off from, regardless of how deep they have gone scrolling through articles. 

Interspersed throughout the list of articles are advertisements which, after a while, blend into the list of articles itself.

What's the Difference
The difference between the two user experiences is simplicity. On one site, a user has to constantly touch buttons to access and scroll through content (i.e., hurdles). On the other site, a user does that much less to access and scroll through content (i.e., no hurdles). Which makes the most sense to you?

With brands spending so much time and attention on mobilizing a web site and/or developing relevant and meaningful content, how much is being spent on the UX itself? Do brands actually put themselves in the user's (consumer's) shoes and scroll through or access their site like the user (consumer) does? If they don't, they should. If a company is so concerned about the brand experience/image it projects into the marketplace, it needs to realize that UX is part and parcel of that brand experience/image.

Lastly, what strikes me about this comparison is that one company had the wherewithal to stop, analyze and make a change, whereas the other company didn't, or at least not yet. It would be interesting to hear from Mashable on how their revised UX has played out.

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