Smartphone search results; search usability; future-friendly content

Duncan Stephen
Wednesday 3 July 2013

Changes in rankings of smartphone search results

Building mobile-optimised websites

Google have announced changes they have made to the way they rank search results for users of smartphones. Google will penalise websites that do not meet their recommendations for building mobile-optimised websites.

Among the most notable points from these:

  • Google recommends using a responsive web design, rather than building a separate mobile website.
  • Google will penalise websites that use Adobe Flash to deliver content. This includes videos.

Converting search into navigation

A recent usability report from Jakob Nielsen. Search engine results often fail to give the users what they were looking for, even though users often turn to search first. Here, Jakob Nielsen looks at some of the problems with search, and some potential solutions.

In study after study, we see the same thing: most users reach for search, but they don’t know how to use it.

Thriving in a world of change: Future-friendly content with Drupal

This is a lengthy but valuable presentation about the challenges faced in content management. The whole thing is lengthy, but I would at least recommend reading the first section of this article.

The big lesson from this is that the print mindset is unsuitable enough for today’s world, and it will be extremely unsuitable for tomorrow’s world. Today’s interfaces are different to print, but ideas carried over from print have up until now worked enough for the techniques to stick. But tomorrow’s interfaces will bear no resemblance to print whatsoever. We need to radically rethink the way we create and publish content. We need to prepare for it now.

All of our assumptions that print techniques can work on the web, even the ‘page’ metaphor, are going to face big challenges very soon. There is going to be a massive diversification in the range of different interfaces that people might use. Today we have mobile and touch screen. Not too far away are speech-based interfaces, Google Glass, smart watches, smart TVs, digital signage, in-car interfaces (in our driverless cars), fridges and who knows what else… Some of these may seem like science fiction pipe dreams that don’t yet work in the real world. But Karen McGrane makes a great point: remember how much of a bad joke touch screens and tablets were just a few years ago.

…[The web was] created for the explicit purpose of allowing anyone, anywhere, to publish documents that can be instantly updated and accessible globally. And when you take a step back from the work we do everyday to appreciate  how transformational that is in the history of communication, 20 years just isn’t even close to enough time to adapt to that monumental change. We opened Pandora’s box.

The desktop web was just the start. For the last 20 years we’ve been able to imagine that a web page is just a glorified print document.

But now the explosion of people accessing the web through mobile devices has forced us to come to terms with the ways that the web is different. Our shared hallucination that we have control over layout and presentation, that most users on the desktop had essentially the same screen size, the same input devices—that’s gone.

…And it’s not going to stop! I’m not a futurist, I’m not here to predict what will capture the public’s imagination next. But I do know, whatever platform comes next, we’re going to have to get our content onto it.

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