Yesterday involved a day trip to London and we ended up at the Masonville Place Mall around noon. No problem, we thought, we’ll just grab something to eat at the food court.
Well, Masonville is wild at any time so you can imagine lunch during the Christmas shopping season.
After we got our lunch, the task became one of finding a place to sit. We noticed a couple of empty seats at a spot where two tables had been pushed together. There were two young ladies already there and so we asked if they wanted some company. No problem.
The two of them had a typical teenager lunch – french fries and a pop – and they were both on their smartphones. We sat down and I put mine on the table as well. I got the evil eye for having my phone out but that was OK. Eventually, we had a conversation and I asked the students if all of their friends had smartphones. The answer was yes. D’uh! Well, maybe not the d’uh part out loud but you knew it was there.
Then the conversation got interesting. I got a quick lesson about responsive web design. It was pointed out to me that the Thames Valley DSB website was really mobile friendly. “It changes because it knows that I’m using my phone”. Quite frankly, I enjoyed the conversation. I was given a demo about how easy the mobile version of the website was to navigate. They really got it and did a good job explaining it to me.
Then, things took an educational turn.
I was told that they constantly check this one teacher’s web presence because it’s friendly for the phone but they don’t check another’s because it doesn’t have a phone interface. Accessing that was limited to school or home computers. I asked if they considered the pinch out / pinch in technique and got another d’uh (under their breath of course …) The real out loud answer was “why should we have to?”
They’re right. It’s almost 2015 and smartphones are here to stay. A well designed resource should take that into consideration.
It reminded me of this resource page that I had read on the topic. The language is directed towards business and clients but could just as easily have the same message if replaced by schools and students. Or parents.
Now, web developers don’t create on a smartphone. They have big, honking 17 inch monitors where they tweak a pixel here and a pixel there to get the desired effect. There’s a move to flatten the entire website with a link to everything on the landing page. They might check their efforts on a variety of browsers to make sure that things are perfect. But, is checking the site out on mobile one of the options? Any developer worth their salt should be able to make sure that they have a simple check to make sure their efforts run on all devices. A good discussion about this is available here. There’s that code thing again.
Increasingly, the answer is yes. A good developer wants her/his efforts to be viewable by everyone. In education, it’s important to be inclusive at so many levels.
How about you? Have you looked at your own web presence on a mobile device? Are you turning away potential visitors because you’re not friendly to them?
Fortunately, services like WordPress allow for responsive design. This blog, for example, delivers the content in a readable manner despite your device. At times, it’s even proofread. (Hi, Lisa and Sheila)
I think that it’s important to realize that people do notice, do care and make decisions based on their experience on your site.