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The 5 worst mobile websites

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Irony of the year award: Nokia

I did say I would eventually violate my own rule about only scrutinizing mobile sites, so here goes: Really, Nokia? No mobile site? While I am not the first to criticize you for being late to the smartphone party, I am the poor sap who identified your Lumia 900 with Windows 8 as one of the top mobile trends of 2012, so there's some egg on my face too. The lack of any mobile context at all from a mobile brand is egregious enough to include in this list, even though I'm singling it out from thousands of brands that haven't bothered to prioritize mobile.

The 5 worst mobile websites

Again, I'll go back to the subject of use cases. From what vantage point might a user be trying to evaluate Nokia's much- ballyhooed push into a crowded smartphone market? One such use case might be, oh, I don't know, an avid Android smartphone user who uses his phone for all manner of searches and wishes to size up the latest and greatest in the field. Tough luck for me, then, because the links on the Nokia site aren't readable on my smartphone, though I am invited to take an equally unreadable usability survey, so perhaps hope is on the way.

I said earlier that all cases of not having any sort of mobile site were inexcusable, and I stand by that, 1200 words later. But at least in the case of, say, Patagonia, I can allow that they're all too busy stress-testing their gear on mountain peaks to bother with their mobile presence. You guys, on the other hand, are busy making mobile phones. Time to alleviate the irony.

The bottom line is that brands need to think altogether differently about the user experience in order to get mobile right. The mobile site should not be an afterthought to the mobile app, a stripped-down version of the desktop site, a brand vacuum, or worst of all, the same damn experience packed into a sardine tin. The mobile experience is one of many touchpoints the user is likely to have with the brand, and as in all of these touchpoints, context matters. Brands should start with a clear understanding of their users' mobile needs and build experiences that don't merely fulfill but delight their users. It may be that we need such a radical adjustment in thinking that we should start with mobile, and then build desktop experiences that proceed from this emphasis on simplicity and usability. But one thing is for certain: When brands finally come around to mobile in a serious way, their customers will have already been there long before.

Eric Anderson is partner and VP of marketing at White Horse.

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