Make story lists easy to use on the go
Jakob Nielsen recently redesigned a mobile website to make its story index more usable.
Now you can steal his approaches for your own mobile site:
1. Add essential information.
If it will help the visitor decide whether to click, add it. Nielsen added:
- Full headlines. Don’t truncate them.
- Decks, aka one-sentence summaries under the headlines. Decks help non-mobile visitors use story lists, too. So don’t drop the deck.
- Photos instead of date icons. Who cares when the story was published? Besides, the photo gives information about the story that the date does not.
- A label instead of a triangle to show the drop-down menu.
2. Drop non-essential information.
If it won’t help the visitor decide whether to click, cut it. Nielsen cut:
- Bylines. Only the writer and the writer’s mother care who wrote it.
- Publication dates. Nielsen used these only as dividers between stories published on a certain day. “The story date is not worth the substantial screen real estate it occupies,” Nielsen writes. “In general, it’s good to question any mobile design that repeats the same information multiple times; such redundancy is probably a poor use of highly limited screen space.”
- Categories and tags. They were too small to hit reliably and didn’t add helpful information.
- Triangle button to tap for a drop-down article summary. Why not just publish the summary?
3. Make important information more prominent.
What else can you do to help mobile visitors find the stories they want to read? Take a tip from Nielsen and:
- Highlight key words in the headline.
- Make touch points bigger. Make the entire story tile clickable instead of just the headline. That will help you solve the “fat finger” syndrome.
- Show more story tiles without making visitors scroll.
- Add more space between the navigation bar options so users are less likely to tap the wrong one.
These approaches are essential to helping visitors use your information through a mobile peephole. Many of them would also make a standard site more usable as well.