I’ve been elbow-deep in our anonymous stats logs, which I look at every now and then to see how visitors’ browsing habits are changing. What I’ve seen, and this should come as no surprise, is that mobile views are way, way up, and “desktop” views way, way down proportionally.
When I redesigned ToolGuyd’s layout about a year and a half ago, it was in response to Google’s policy change, where they said they would favorably rank mobile-friendly websites over those that aren’t.
At the time, I had already been meaning to go more mobile-friendly, and my approach was to make ToolGuyd responsive, where things change size or move around depending on the viewing screen size.
Well, it’s time for some tweaking. With there being so much more mobile traffic these days, with nearly as many visitors using smartphones as desktop and laptop computers, I will be looking for ways to improve things.
Initially, my goal will be to improve accessibility to past content. On a desktop or laptop, you get a full top menu, and “recent posts” and “new comments” lists in the sidebar. On a mobile device, you get a hidden top menu, and the sidebar links are all the way at the bottom of the page, below the content and comments.
I don’t know about you, but I rarely scroll past an article when browsing on my smartphone.
On a desktop computer, I might open a load of tabs when visiting a new site. I sometimes do the same on my smartphone, but not really.
If there’s a layout change that you don’t like, such as if it makes reading more difficult for you, please let me know.
If you’ve got a request, please let me know that too. It was a reader request that led me to auto-post headlines to our Facebook page, and another that led me to restore “next post” and “previous post” links on article pages.
Some changes you might not notice, such as the 3-letter abbreviation of month names anywhere you see a date. I might change this back, but what I’ve found is that this shortens the length of the date, author name, and comment count at the top of every article and on the homepage headline listings. So instead of this info being on two lines on my smartphone, it’s now just one line, saving space.
I will be running an experiment, where I switch the RSS feed from “full content” to “excerpts only.” You’ll have to click on the headline to read it.
I avoided doing this for so long, as I also read a lot of content vis RSS, but I have found that 1) so many sites do this now that I don’t give it a second thought when I click a headline to read more, 2) many RSS feed readers allow for effortless transition and in-app or on-page display of full content, and 3) some ToolGuyd features don’t always work well via RSS, or sometimes at all, such as embedded YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter content.
RSS content strips out all styling that’s not in-line, which discards how I want things to be displayed.
I toggled the switchover right before publishing this post, and so if you read ToolGuyd via RSS, I ask you this – did you even notice?
Subscribers to our original RSS newsletter emails, which I changed over to our current platform 5 or 6 years ago, might be the most affected. (Sorry, guys!) That email service is no longer supported, and I have yet to find a workaround, but I’ll continue to keep it in mind.
I also removed the RSS link from the top of ToolGuyd pages. Most RSS readers can pull it out of a site address when you subscribe. That’s all I need when I subscribe to a new site via RSS – the main URL.
When you want to subscribe to a new site’s RSS feed, do you look for the RSS link?
Please share your thoughts with us! How can we make your ToolGuyd browsing experience even better?