An Airing Of Grievances

I was thinking today about a number of things that really annoy me about the overall user experience of browsing the Internet on a mobile device. (For the record, I use mobile Safari.) And before you think that I’m going to go all Andy Rooney on you (“You know what I don’t like about gophers?”), I just ask for you to bear with me; I’m certain that there are a number of things on this list that annoy you too.

Before I begin, a quick note: I understand that I’m just one guy on the internet with just one little voice. However, I’m hoping that somehow, in some way, this message gets out to site developers to start making their user experiences better. My frustrations listed here aren’t found only on old-school companies trying to be hip or cool (think Dr. Evil attempting the Macarena), but can be found on sites that should know better, like Mashable.

Modal windows

You know what I’m referring to, although you might not have known what they’re called. They’re those little windows that pop over a website, typically while darkening the site behind it; something akin to the Windows 7 User Account Control experience where the screen dims around a box, prompting you for input. Admittedly, I used to think modal windows were cool, especially when used in conjunction with photo galleries; who knows, perhaps there still are cool use cases for them. However, on a mobile device they tend to be a giant pain to use, causing a poor user experience.

Most modal windows take the size of the browser window into account when attempting to position themselves right smack dab in the middle. While this behavior may be OK for a desktop based browser, on a mobile it’s terrible. I can’t even remember how many times I’d be zoomed into some content on a mobile browser and a modal window popped up (often times, all by itself), not in the middle of my screen (making it easy), but rather down in the far right hand corner. When this happens, I’m forced to try to zoom out my view in an attempt to get to the X or close button. Even this doesn’t always work well, as the script that’s popping up the modal window might fire again when it senses a browser resize and again puts it in the far right hand corner. My assumption is that the script that’s calculating the centering is interpreting the dimensions of the browser to be bigger than the screen itself. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because a site isn’t doing a good job on identifying the browser user-agent (user agents are a browser’s means of announcing who they are to sites), or if it’s lazy development from the folks who built the site, or an issue with mobile Safari – ultimately, it’s a poor user experience and has to stop.

I’ve had a number of experiences where I’ve had to fight a modal window in order to return to the content I wanted to read, but was unable to. What happens then? I leave your site. Seriously. So if you care about click throughs, time spent on site, or site exit pages; STOP making it hard for me to read something.

Please. I’m begging you here.

Tiny little click-boxes

Ok, seriously folks, this is a mobile device. The accuracy of a touch screen interface powered by a human hand isn’t the same sort of accuracy you might get from a mouse and a desktop browser. Stop making it hard for me to click things on your website, especially the !@#$ tiny little click-boxes in your modal windows.

Mobile sites that don’t translate full-version links

What do I mean by this? I’m sure you’ve had the experience by now where you’re using a mobile device and click on a link in an email, Twitter, or Facebook. Instead of getting the content you wanted to get, you’re instead presented with a mobile version of that same site WITHOUT the content you wanted. WHY? If you have a mobile version of a “full desktop” website, PLEASE make the both of them aware of the other; otherwise, you have no stinking business even making a mobile site in the first place. I don’t want to have to search your mobile site for the content, and I don’t want to have to find your “switch to full version” link (if you have one), then re-click the link in the hopes that I’ll actually get to your content. While I’m on the subject of mobile sites, please for the love of all things good and right…

Stop forcing me to use one version of your site or the other

If I get presented with the mobile version of your site, and then choose to go to the full desktop experience, please remember my choice. DON’T force me back to your mobile site. There’s a reason why I made that choice, wouldn’t you think? Make your site smarter, or frustrate and potentially alienate a huge part of your site’s audience.

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Sometimes I feel like mobile browsing has taken the overall Internet experience that most have become accustomed to in the past decade and thrown it in the trash. Why in the world do I still have to view all sorts of ads and pop over windows and flashing crappy gif animations, etc? A mobile equivalent of AdBlock needs to exist. (Admittedly, it might in the Android world of mobile devices, but since I’m an iOS user… Well, we all know how much Apple loves to control the user experience and the platform by which it’s delivered, but I digress.) Somehow this sort of functionality is needed. Will someone please get the scientists working on this already?

OMG Stop complaining

OK. That’s enough for now; I think I’ve managed to get most of this out of my system. Site developers, please take my concerns into consideration. I’m sure I’m not the only one frustrated.

Comments

  1. Ha! I love Squishadelphia. I do the same thing. I think most of our animals don’t even know their real names. You forgot Cohen’s alter-ego Stephen my favorite.

  2. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  3. Vixcita,I am so happy for you amor..your Mama is looking out for you..that tweed jacked is the best paired with that maxi skirt..love all your jewelry..your hair looks lighter..I love it..that polish color looks good on you.

  4. DK,
    I couldn’t agree with you more! Mobile browsing and even some apps are really annoying on a phone, it leaves me wondering why I even bother doing some things on the phone. If you are going to create an app for a mobile phone, make sure it’s actually usable! I’ve had to delete many apps that are simply too small print, won’t go landscape or are just too buggy. I don’t want to have to carry an iPad in my back pocket to get things done, so I agree there are areas for improvement. By the way, great site redesign, it looks much cleaner and I like the green color.

    Keep it up,
    Greg

  5. ….So shines a good deed in a weary world.

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