The Mobile-Hostile Web

April 18th, 2010

We have often looked at sites that are usable on, if not designed for, mobile use as “mobile-friendly.” It’s time we started looking at sites poorly suited to mobile use as mobile-hostile. Customers will soon start viewing the companies that field them as mobile-hostile as well — which is to say, willfully out of touch with their needs, and pretty much asking smarter competitors to lure them away. Below, a rant about the subject, the beginning of a thrilling two-part series.

Part One: The Comcast Ordeal
The target of my displeasure today is Comcast. Look around the Web, and you’ll find no shortage of reasons people complain about Comcast, but they’re my best option for Internet access. Like many service providers, Comcast is in the difficult position of being noticed only when they do something wrong; however, that simply means they have to try even harder to address customers’ needs when things do go wrong.

My Internet access was down this morning, and after trying every usual trick on my end, my next step was to contact Comcast and see if anything was amiss on their end. First, however, I figured I should check to make sure I hadn’t simply forgotten to pay my bill (I’m human, it happens). I logged onto Comcast.com on my Palm Pre, and was immediately greeted with a clunky, cluttered screen that loaded like the bits were being flown in via carrier pigeon. Zooming in past the “You need Flash to view this” placeholder taking up half the screen and the 15 assorted offers gracing the home page, I found “Pay Your Bill Online,” and after three more screens and another couple of minutes of typing and loading, I was on my account page. I tapped the button to pay my bill, and that’s when the real fun began.

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