I was watching the demonstration of the new Nevada County Tourism Web site on TV and it did not appear to be very mobile ready. Smartphone use is gathering steam in the U.S. Forty percent of American adults use their cell phones to surf the Web, e-mail, or use instant messaging, according to a study from Pew Research Center. That's up from 32 percent a year ago, based on Pew's survey of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older. "The smartphone has really penetrated the mainstream of American society," says Aaron Smith, a Pew research specialist. In the first quarter, smartphones accounted for 34 percent of all mobile handsets sold in the U.S., up from 31 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to consultant NPD Group.
Reviewing the power point presented to the Board of Supervisors it appears to me that the current web site design is not mobile friendly with drop down menues, small dense text and mouse oriented subject selection. Here are some things that Switchback might want to consider in the redesign from Web Design Trends in 2011
3. Mobile Ready
Smartphones, iPads, netbooks, oh my! There’s a dizzying amount of mobile products available to the consumer in 2011. This means your web design must be responsive to multiple viewports.
Creating a mobile ready website is not simply removing the bells and whistles from your design. This can create a vacant and impersonal design. Although not impossible, distilling the magic from your original design into a pure representation of your brand is tough! Fortunately, technology is quickly removing this burden.
It may be tempting to just create a dedicated mobile site, but that may no longer satisfy your audience. Increasingly, mobile sites include the option to visit the original site. If you do not offer this option or if your original site is not optimized to mobile standards, you are simply not ready for 2011. Forecasters predict that smartphones will outsell personal computers this year. Bulletproof your design to meet this demand.
5. Designing for Touch Screens, Not Mice
Technology has become much more tactile. Usability is shifting from abstract to tangible. This means that instead of navigating your mouse to remotely connect, your destination is literally at your fingertips. Tablets, most smartphones and some desktops use touchscreens. Does your design accommodate fingertip navigation?
How much of your design is mouse-oriented? As designers, we worship mice. Our links light up when the mouse hovers over. However, there’s no hovering in touchscreen. How will your design indicate links to your visitors? What about drop-down menus? That’s also a no-go in touchscreen design.
Similarly, how will visitors peruse your site? As controversial as it may be for standard web browsing, horizontal scrolling may be more appropriate for touchscreens. Fitting nicely into this niche is a magazine-like layout where visitors virtually flip through your site.
Lastly, consider using liquid layouts as part of your commitment toward responsive design. In 2011, you are no longer dealing with screen resolution size. Visitors can change their viewing orientation from vertical to horizontal. Your design must be flexible to meet any challenge, or you will be a relic of 2010.
It appears that the current Switchback design is already a relic! The world in going mobile and this design is not mobile smartphone friendly!
Update (02-23-11, 09:35) A County observer points out the current design was intended as a planning tool and not for access to information once the tourist arrives in the community. He points out that Switchback’s mobile strategy is focused more around the social media integration, where visitors will be able to get content and interact via Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube channels. These are all smartphone friendly features. It is also possible that Calendar function has mobile support.
I will have to wait until the sites goes live to test the Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/Calendar functions and usability features on my smartphone.