View Full Website Is A Cop-out

Designing for mobile web doesn’t mean to strip down features or limit content. In fact mobile users want just as much functionality and content as desktop users.

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About a month ago, me and my wife decided to take a quick weekend trip to San Francisco.

I quickly jump on my phone to one of the major travel sites on my phone.

I get redirected to a m. mobile URL for a mobile specific site. I have a moment of “great, what’s coming next” as I smirk and brace for impact of what will be loaded in my mobile phones browser window.

Let’s step back. Before we get to what gets loaded, I want to reiterate my primary goal. With an understanding that booking hotels and flights together, get you a discount. My mom even knows about that. I’m just sayin.

Okay, so I want to book a flight and hotel together from Minneapolis (MSP) to San Francisco (SFO) for 2, for 3 days and 2 nights. Simple enough.

My expectations from using desktop versions of these sites is to look for a tab or link to search for “Vacations,” or “Flight + Hotel,” right?

Wrong. This is what I get instead.

Mobile versions of travel websites

Mobile versions of travel websites

I’m sorry, I don’t want to just book a flight, or just a hotel, I want to book a flight and hotel together.

I do notice one saving grace on every travel site I go to, the “View Full Website” link.

Perfect (with full sarcastic delivery). Now I have to deal with pinching and zooming and zooming and pinching to make my travel plans as I am perfectly comfortable sitting on my couch with my wife.

“View Full Website” is a cop-out

Let’s not mistake something here, that little link at the bottom of mobile versions of websites is shitty design.

“View Full Website” says to me, this company took the time to notice that I am specifically a mobile user, maybe even know which type of mobile device I’m using, and they delivered a specific design to me that excluded content and functionality that I expected. Now I’m insulted.

I wonder what the analytics are of the amount of visitors who come these mobile sites who click that little link at the bottom.

A new hope

Alas, the web is in a transition period for the better. The numbers are hard to miss and business priorities are changing because of it.

The following statistics are taken from Josh Clark’s wonderful presentation “The Myths of Mobile Context”:

25% of US mobile web users exclusively use mobile. That’s around 8% of US adults overall.

Holy crap, that’s a huge number.

In the early days of mobile web design, which was just a few years ago up until now, there are still believers in removing functionality and content based on device. The thought that less complexity is better when designing for the mobile web, which is another myth that Josh points out.

Mobile content and features should be AT LEAST at the same level as any other platform. Mobile is not lite. Mobile is not less.

People don’t want dumbed down apps, they want uncomplicated apps. The trick is to make complexity uncomplicated. There’s a diference

With mobile usage so large, its hard not to taylor the best experiences to mobile users.

Some designers have caught on early, some still need to catch up as we go along. I know that many of these companies are probably learning from their previous mistakes and are changing for the better.

Hopefully, the number of “View Full Website” links diminish in the following years knowing what we, as designers, know now.

Here’s a few resources to give you inspiration for different layouts, navigational models and interface galleries that may give you a little inspiration to designing the complex, simple.