A few weeks ago, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency went mobile, and it made pretty big news, surprisingly (at least here in Iowa):
“Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse said as more farmers and ranchers are using mobile devices and high-tech tools, so the government must keep up.” —KCCI
Good reasoning. Good strategy. So we took a look. This is what we found:
This is not the best of mobile websites. It may be more readable than a desktop website on a mobile device, but it still has some less-than-ideal qualities. Here’s what we didn’t like:
- Hyperlinks: The bright blue hurts our eyes! And the links aren’t very thumb-friendly. We’d suggest buttons or wide text blocks to direct users to the articles. Also, we’d like to see shorter headlines that fit better on mobile.
- No navigation bar or buttons: How do we get around this site? The navigation is not immediately clear, making for a clunky mobile experience.
- Images: The images seem too small across the top. And the lack of images (and design elements) throughout the site make it seem a bit dry and text-heavy.
- Text: Again, it’s just too small. Text on a mobile phone should be about 16-point size to minimize eye strain and improve readability.
- Reader: You see the “Reader” button in the URL bar for the article page? That’s a nice feature to improve readability. Click on it and you’ll go to a page that’s better-formatted for mobile, but there are still some vertical spacing issues that detract from the content.
- Other issues: Inconsistency with the article format. On some stories, the text isn’t too small — it’s too big, forcing you to scroll left-to-right to read it. Tipping your phone doesn’t help, and you can’t pinch to make it smaller.
Have you seen a good (or bad) example of a mobile website lately? We’d like to know! Leave a comment below to get in touch with us.