As a kid, I grew up listening to A Prairie Home companion on Saturday drives, but it wasn’t until this year that I discovered a new love for podcasts and NPR. I got hooked listening to Serial this fall, and I now regularly listen to shows like Invisibilia and This American Life. I love listening to audio in my car, but NPR isn’t necessarily my go-to website for news. I’m not really sure why this is, but after several conversations with a friend who is passionate about radio platforms, I realized I wanted to make an effort to read NPR’s online content more often. NPR often approaches stories from new and interesting angles, and I am excited to listen and read more content from the news organization.
With this goal in mind, I decided to take a look at NPR’s mobile site this week. I was excited to find that NPR has a really nice mobile site. The site pulls articles into square cards of information that include a category, photo, headline, text paragraph and audio player. These tiles cleanly stack down the page as you scroll on your phone. The user can play audio directly from these tiles without leaving the page, and the user can pause audio and return to finish the audio where they left off at a different time. A News Update drop down down menu in the top right corner lists the day’s top headlines, and a hamburger menu in the top left corner serves as a navigation bar. Clicking on additional tabs in the navigation bar brings the user to other pages that have similar stacked tiles. These tiles feel mobile native, and, except in a few cases, render cleanly without glitches.
The mobile site serves as a strong companion to NPR’s regular site. On a desktop, NPR’s content also displays in tiles down the page. The navigation bar appears at the top of the page with more drop down options. Both sides prompt me to listen to my local station, KBIA. Additionally, options like Support Public Radio or Find Stations appear on the homepage of the regular site instead of within a hamburger menu. NPR’s mobile site is different in these few key ways, but it is still very effective because it does not try to force a desktop site onto a cell phone. The mobile site features modifications to NPR’s site that make sense for a handheld device. The content is easily scrollable, scalable and functional. I especially love that I can listen to the audio directly within a tile on the mobile site. On a desktop, audio actually opens in a second tab, which allows for the user to easily listen to audio while completing other tasks. On a mobile device, it is much more functional to keep the user on the same page while they explore content.
Overall, NPR’s mobile site is an aesthetically appealing and functional site. The mobile site serves all of my needs as an audio user, and I would even consider using the mobile site over using an NPR app made exclusively for audio listening.