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We currently have a very content heavy desktop site, and a mobile version of the site that only contains about 20% of all the content. Currently we have a server rule that redirects ALL mobile traffic to that m site, but we'd like to change that, since it inhibits users from getting to most of our content. We can't even have a link on the mobile site to the desktop version, because that rule will just kick in and send them back to the mobile homepage. So we're evaluating turning off that rule, and just detecting mobile devices on the page itself.

What's the best practice, in this case, for asking the user if they want to visit the mobile site? Would it be some kind of modal/popup? Also, Am I right in thinking we should cookie this decision for future visits?

Thanks!

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Oblig: xkcd.com/869 –  MSalters Mar 11 '13 at 13:14

4 Answers 4

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I would agree with Mervin on figuring out what content mobile users truly want and need. Some quick user surveys or user observation of your site on mobile devices would probably give you that info pretty quick.

But in the mean time, I like the idea of giving the user a 'header warning' or something more prominent but less subtle than a modal or a popup. Just a nice header warning with "Check out our mobile site" with the entire header piece linked to your mobile site. You could then provide a link to go back to the desktop version.

Also, you could investigate using a Local Storage variable or JSON object instead of just simply a cookie... might give you more flexibility on what you want to store and also Local Storage is bit stickier on mobile devices. I did a similar thing here: http://codepen.io/pcridesagain/pen/ozcLb

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There are diffrenet options to this, but one example I like is the one from ux.stackexchange.com (or any other *.SE site). The implementation is good, you can do almost everything on the mobile site - but if you really have to move to the full site - you can. Simple and easy and well thought through. There are a lot of thinking behind this site:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

It's the same url, no redirect to an m.* site, and you have the option (image 2) to use the full site. Best I've seen so far!

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More than just trying to decide which site to show to mobile users and how to redirect them between the sites, the question you should be asking is what is the content users are looking for and how best can we convey that on our mobile site so that users can get a comparable experience on both ends. There are also multiple problems associated with redirecting users from a Mobile site to a desktop site unless your desktop site is well structured. A good example is given in this article :

"If you're only delivering a subset of content and features on your mobile site, redirecting users to the mobile URL can cause huge problems. This scenario happens all the time: the user searches for something on Google from her phone, and finds the content she's looking for. Tapping the link in search results takes her to the mobile site, but because that content doesn't exist on mobile, she gets dumped on the mobile homepage. Sure, she can link to the full desktop site, but she winds up on the homepage there too. She knows the content exists, she just can't get to it anymore. Redirecting to the mobile URL breaks Google search. How is that ever a good user experience?"

In this context I also recommend looking at this article A User-Centered Approach To Web Design For Mobile Devices

That said, I strongly recommend against going for the popup route as there is a lot of evidence that popups in mobile are no better than popups in a website. To quote this article

I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me more likely to close down a website on my mobile browser than an errant popup image. Although these graphics can be useful on traditional websites in terms of capturing new subscribers and driving conversions, they’re an absolute nightmare in a mobile environment.

As you’re developing your mobile website version, make sure all popups are turned off. Heck, even if – after reading this article – you decide not to take advantage of all the benefits mobile website versions have to offer, consider turning off popups on your main site (or using a tool that deploys them on traditional browsers only) in order to avoid irritating your mobile visitors.

A better option would be to provide a link which would allow users to direct to the mobile version of the site. You also need to ensure that users can redirect back to the desktop site in case they are not able to find the content they are looking for. I do like the concept of remembering the user requirement but you might find it a tad tricky to implement if you go with a link based approach

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Don't make your users make a decision if they don't have to - decisions are hard. Especially because users don't know if they want your mobile site or not because they don't know what's on it yet! Make your website opinionated!

As long as you turn off the redirect rule as you indicated in your question, just give people on your mobile site a link to the full version if they need it (just like Benny's answer). It's a commonly-used pattern that people at least have a chance at recognizing. It's not as good as actually having a mobile-optimized version of your site with everything on it, but it's for sure a step in the right direction.

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