Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users: Jakob Nielsen nails why mobile devices are inherently harder to consume content with, based entirely on screen size.
Prior research has shown that it’s 108% harder to understand information when reading from a mobile screen. Content comprehension suffers when you’re looking through a peephole, because there’s little visible context. The less you can see, the more you have to remember, and human short-term memory is notoriously weak.
He’s right – a smaller screen means you can see less of the ancillary content on a page which shows context. Less context makes it harder to absorb information.
I know mobile is the hot thing right now, but mobile devices will just never be as usable as a full-size browser. If you plan right, you can get closer, but you always have to make changes, and you always have to compromise.
So, when I wrote this…
This has left me wondering about the future of “mobile versions” of Web sites. How much longer will you need to code a separate version of your Web site for mobile versions? […] You’d just need to design your site well, and perhaps make a few very small concessions to mobile devices (or maybe none at all).
…I was clearly wrong.