Forbes Relaunches Mobile Site, Focuses on Usability and Search
Publisher utilizes HTML5 to improve smartphone access.
In the digital push, 2011 saw publishers heavily focused on tablet adaptation. However, the 100 million American consumers who now own smartphones is an audience magazines cannot afford to ignore. To that end, Forbes quietly relaunched its mobile site in late November. The publisher chose to build the new site on HTML5, looking to improve consumer usability regardless of mobile platform.
Lewis D’Vorkin, chief product officer with Forbes, said the magazine’s old mobile site (built on MDog’s mobile portal technology) was live before he joined the company. “It was an early version, and it was difficult to use, to be candid,” says D’Vorkin. “We knew that we wanted to have an optimized site for mobile because even with it being difficult to use, there were a lot of consumers using it.”
Forbes’ desktop web formula (trademarked by multiple ways to share content and "branding" its journalists) was replicated in its mobile strategy. “We’re very methodical here about how we do things,” D’Vorkin tells FOLIO:.
Tech vendor MDog was abandoned, and a new mobile platform was created by Forbes’ development team.
“By using HTML5 and reformatting it, we were able to create a page on a cell phone that is very similar to the page on the web, in terms of branding, contributors and headlines,” says D’Vorkin. “Instead of embedding some of the elements in the text like on the desktop, the elements are very linear, so they appear underneath. We reformatted to take many of the elements on the page standing side by side and stacked them on top of each other.”
Improved search functionality was the next step in Forbes’ enhanced mobile presence. D’Vorkin and his team decided to spearhead smartphone search capability before resuscitating it on Forbes’ desktop site. Upgrades include faster results and article suggestions for readers.
Along with the social sharing that quickly became convention for publishers, a more rare “views” tally is visible both on Forbes‘ desktop and mobile sites. Of the decision to make this number public, D’Vorkin says, “I believe it’s interesting for the user to see the popularity of the page they’re in. It’s very important for journalists and content creators in the new era to understand in real time how audiences are reacting to their content, and it’s something that helps them inform what they do; not dictate, but inform.”
D’Vorkin did not offer numbers to qualify the following statement, but he asserts, “I can tell you that since we launched this, the amount of consumers using our content has significantly increased, and the amount of pages used through the cell phone has increased.”