Bitmob

www.bitmob.com

Visit the Bitmob website

The Bitmob website

The reason I like this website so much is because it is trying to do something different. Bitmob is a community driven games journalism website. The community is open and each member of the community has a blog. The posts from all the blogs are aggregated into the ‘mobfeed’ and automatically added to both the website and the RSS feed. Not unlike our course blogs in fact! This provides a ready made audience which is a difficult thing to come by in an area as saturated with blogs as gaming.

The community is supported by an editorial team who read all the posts and promote the best ones on the front page. The editorial team is made up of well respected journalists, so having access to this kind of feedback and criticism is invaluable. There are also monthly writing competitions which aim to improve the standard of journalism on the website.

From a design point of view it’s good. It’s simple to navigate, and the visual design is appropriate to the site’s content. Although it is similar to other gaming websites that don’t have a community aspect to them, there are enough visual clues to make this clear. As well as the  strap line – ‘Where Community Meets the Press’ – an unobtrusive pop-up (not visible on the screenshot) containing a brief description of the website’s purpose appears the first time you visit.

BBC Food

www.bbc.co.uk/food

Visit the BBC food website

The BBC food website

I use the BBC food website more frequently than any other. It manages to provide a huge amount of content but without obscuring the main focal point of the site, which I think is the ‘quick recipe finder.’ In the latest iteration however the actual search box appears just below the  fold. It’s not difficult to find but it would be interesting to discuss with a new user whether they are able to find it as easily as I am.

Until I sat down to write this blog post I wasn’t actually aware of just how much content there is on the website. This isn’t because it’s difficult to find the content, but because I went to the website with a purpose and the rest of the content didn’t get in the way. If I had gone to the website looking for the recipes from the latest food programmes I would have found them just as easily.

There are some nice details in the search results such as the little ‘in season’ icon besides recipes and the way in which the advanced search options are unobtrusive but easy to use when needed.

It’s a well designed, visually appealing website with a home page that encourages browsing. The colour scheme seems suitably Autumnal at the moment which I think is deliberate, although I don’t know this for sure. The website manages to negotiate the difficulties of providing a lot of content without losing sight of the expectations of its users. Again though I’d be interested to know the thoughts of anyone who is less familiar with the website on how easy it is to use.

Ars Technica mobile site

www.arstechnica.com

Visit the Ars Technica website

Ars Technica mobile site. From left to right the icons are: general, Apple, gaming, Microsoft, gadgets, open source, business IT, science, tech policy.

I prefer the Ars Technica mobile site to the full site. The little icons always make me smile and although it’s not always clear what they  represent they’re interesting enough to encourage a user to click on them to find out. Given the size of the viewport they were designing for I also think they’re quite ingenious.

What I like about this website is its simplicity. All the secondary content from the main site such as links to the Facebook page, job listings and even adverts, has been removed. Images have also been removed which speeds up the loading time, saves on bandwidth and ensures the screen remains uncluttered.  The images are replaced with the category icons so you know at a glance what category a post is in. This is an improvement over the small tag and category information on the main site. What is left is the most important content from the site and a user interface suitable for mobile browsing.

I think this is the best designed of all the three websites in this post. They have stripped back the content and developed a user interface which perfectly suits the medium. It is very difficult to provide an elegant and usable mobile version of such a content heavy website.

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