Example 1:  Hotels.com – full version left, iPhone version right I’ve seen, and sometimes been involved in, a lot of discussions recently on iPhone related forums about iPhone optimized sites, and whether web content publishers should even bother with them.  In particular, I’ve seen a lot of folks saying they hate seeing these, and would […]
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YES, I Do Want iPhone Optimized Sites!

hotels2 hotels

Example 1:  Hotels.com – full version left, iPhone version right

I’ve seen, and sometimes been involved in, a lot of discussions recently on iPhone related forums about iPhone optimized sites, and whether web content publishers should even bother with them.  In particular, I’ve seen a lot of folks saying they hate seeing these, and would like to always see ‘full’ versions of a site when on their iPhone.  It really pisses them of when a major site (like Yahoo recently) forces them onto a mobile version of the site when it recognizes the iPhone browser.

I am a huge fan of iPhone optimized sites when they’re done right.  There is no way I’d like to see *only* full versions of sites on the iPhone.  I’d go blind or poke my eyes out on the way to it.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely agree that sites should always offer the choice.  There should always be a clear, easy to find link to toggle between full and iPhone / Mobile versions of a site.  That should just be a basic design tenet when working on iPhone sites. 

But … there are a number of good reasons why I want to keep seeing sites customized for viewing on the iPhone …

Get Around Quick: I want to be able to navigate quickly and easily around a site and get to the content I want, or work with the section of the site I need to.  It’s just much, much easier to do this when a site is tailored for the iPhone.  On many full sites, I have to zoom, pinch, scroll around to get to what I want – which is a waste of time. 

Less Mistakes:  On many full sites, quite a few of the links are close enough to each other, and things are so tiny on the screen without a lot of zooming, that it is very easy to make mistakes when trying to hit one of them.  More wasted time.

Faster Page Loads: Even on a good WiFi connection, there are some sites that are just so full and busy that they take a fair while to load.  On an Edge connection, well, frustration levels can get real, real high real quick.  So am I willing to trade a little less glam and glitz on a site in return for much faster loading pages?  In a New York second (not in a Mobile Safari + Edge 45 seconds) I am!

Some examples:  the two screencaps at the top of this post are of the Hotels.com home page – full on the left, iPhone optimized on the right.  Is the iPhone site lovely to look at?  Probably not, although some of their pages are quite nice.  But which one is going to have you finding the info you want more quickly = no contest.

Here’s Amazon:

amazonfull1 amazoniphone1

Again, for me, no contest as to which one is going to have me seeing, and interacting with, what I want far more quickly.

I love the Mobile Safari browser and the iPhone’s gorgeous screen as much as the next person.  But I think some folks are getting a little caught up with basking in their glory. As lovely as the screen is, it is still comparatively very small compared to even a laptop screen.  You can love it all you want, but less fits on the screen, and things appear very tiny when a busy page is loaded on it. 

And yeah, it’s very cool to show a friend who hasn’t seen an iPhone how you can see the ‘real’ New York Times site, or whatever.  But once you get over the ‘how cool is that’ phase of things, do you really want to spend time waiting on that NYT page loading when you’re in the car and cranking that blazing fast Edge-driven page load speeds?  And when a page does finally load, you enjoy hunting and pecking feverishly in order to actually read an article?

If you answered yes to those, then fair enough.  Different strokes for different folks and all that.  But I’ll take an iPhone optimized site (if it’s done right) every time …

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