I just read a great article by Josh Clark critiquing Jacob Nielsen’s stance on mobile Web sites. The idea is that a large number of people use their phone as their primary way of accessing the Web. By dumbing down the mobile site, removing content, and making it hard to find that content on the full site, we are making their lives harder, not easier. He also made a strong point about how the same content viewed on different devices should have the same URL, and I think I’m coming over to agree with that point of view.
The idea is that adaptive design can give you different views on the same content, and with adaptive design you should be able to get a “full” site that’s better formatted to the smaller screens. The one caveat though about having the same site for desktop and for mobile: many use cases often are different between mobile and desktop, some content should be featured more prominently on mobile devices than on desktop sites so that the more common mobile activities can be achieved more quickly. Adaptive design techniques should be able to handle this, it just means you still have to consider mobile separately even though the site is shared.
And while we are talking about Jakob Nielsen, when is he going to get around to making his site even mildly appealing? He’s had the same ugly design when I last commented on it 8 years ago. When is he going to learn that visual aesthetics are part of usability as well?