Last week I reported on an upcoming change to the Google change that was going to see increased ranking benefits to those who are mobile friendly. It's a big change but a needed one as today more then ever we are using mobile devices to browse the internet. 2015 is the first year on record that mobile devices will surpass PC's for search usage online.
That statistic alone got me wondering why some of the most visited sites on the internet haven't adopted responsive web design.
Time for this culprit to be more responsive
A few months ago TSN.ca, one of Canada's most visited websites, made the change to responsive design. Those unfamiliar with the differences between responsive and mobile design it's simple.
Responsive design adapts to the screen size of the device you're using. While that's a pretty bland description all you need to do is browse sites like TSN (or this one) and see the difference between a laptop, iPad, or smartphone. Everything fits nicely on screen and users aren't forced to scroll horizontally as was the case for many non-mobile friendly web sites.
Mobile friendly can of course mean the above but it typically speaks to websites who have a separate website altogether on a sub domain. Before TSN did a redesign their mobile version resided at http://mobile.tsn.ca. While that works just fine it's got some disadvantages for SEO, fortunately the sites listed below don't need much help with online marketing.
As a huge hockey fan and a visitor to this site on a regular basis it pains me to always have to wait until I'm home to check it on the computer. The NHL has a mobile friendly website which can be found at http://m.nhl.com but as is the case with a lot of these sub-domain versions the design and layout are lacking.
Even the current style of the regular website could use an uplift. Flat design is a big trend so it would be nice to see the NHL move away from those god awful gradient style buttons and headline textures into something more simplistic, clean, and UX friendly. Most of the major sports sites feel overwhelming with boxes placed everywhere with everything from advertising, statistics, videos etc.
The biggest issue I imagine facing all of this is the complexity of the job. With most major sports networks everything runs through one platform/database and feeds each league team, one of the reasons every NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA team site looks similar. In the NHL's case they're not replacing just one site but likely 30 other teams as well. While it would be nice to be able to give member teams a little creative flexibility for their sites I understand that something as simple as new backgrounds are good enough.
Responsive design in this day and age is a necessity. We as fans want ease of use and media rich content. Gone are the days of boring text only mobile sites, instead we use smartphones that are as fast (or in some cases faster) as our PC equivalent. Data doesn't seem to be an issue for most, it's only when streaming comes into play where things might cause problems. That's not the NHL's worry, that's yours.
Major entertainment providers like the NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA etc don't need the added benefits from a Google perspective, instead they should be looking to help their fans get the content they want in any way possible. Major sports news sites like TSN, Sportsnet, and ESPN have already made the move to responsive design and are becoming the go to for information because, quite simply, it looks better on screen.
What do you think? What could some of the major sports on this continent do to provide a better user experience? Or do you like it just how it is?