The Atlantic: A Mobile Experience

Although I use the Internet on a daily basis from my phone, I try to avoid using the browser on my phone as much as possible. The screen is just too small for as much information as typical websites have, and even responsive designs can be cumbersome to navigate using a touch screen. When I do use my phone to browse the Web, it’s usually to read articles so I choose to look into The Atlantic‘s mobile website.

There’s nothing too special about the home page, but it does what it needs to do. Users see a site navigation bar at the top of the screen followed by a list of articles organized by publication date with the most recent on top. Each entry has a small feature image to the left of the headline, byline and publication date and time. Although there isn’t an excerpt for any the articles like on the desktop site, the headlines are usually descriptive enough to interest readers or at least to clue them in about the topic.

Here is what the typical design for an article on The Atlantic’s mobile site looks like.

The mobile site excels the most when it comes to the presentation of the articles. This is good since I would assume most people enter the website through specific story links and not the home page itself. The same navigation bar appears at the top of these pages, which provides consistent across the site. As you scroll, this becomes a slightly different fixed navigation with links to the home page and social media. The top of the page also has links to social media, email and the access to the next article or other articles within the same category as the one the user is reading. I like this because it allows readers to share the content in multiple ways very easily and find more content like what they’re currently reading.

Another impressive feature about the site is the hamburger menu. It opens along the left side of the browser window and seems to be the perfect size of a mobile device. It lists the different content areas that the magazine covers and also lets the user access the full website or download the magazine’s app.

This is how ads appear within a text story on the mobile version of the site.

My least favorite part of the website is the ads that require you to look at them for 15 seconds before you can “skip” them. What’s interesting to me is that the desktop version does not include these types of ads. While this practice is frustrating, the site developers did come up with a great way to handle ads within the stories. They don’t take up too much space and also are clearly marked as advertisements. Because they’re images, they tend to load slower than the text, and this label alerts users they don’t need to wait around (unless they really want to see an ad, I suppose). Even the design choice to separate the ads from the article with lines shows there is a difference between the two types of content.

Overall, I found this website to be user friendly and easy to navigate. The proportions, including font size, are perfect for the smaller display of a phone screen. The design choices distinguish the mobile site from the desktop site while still continuing the magazine’s branding. Amazingly, I still get a sense of white space within the mobile site, which seems hard to do. From a journalistic perspective, there are enough engagement techniques to keep users on the site or talking about the site. Kudos to the site designers.


One thought on “The Atlantic: A Mobile Experience

  1. I like this website, too, but it’s my first time visit it on a mobile phone. It keeps most of its identity associated with the web version, and appears to be very clean and organized. Just like what you said it keeps the branding but is different. And that 15-second ads idea is particularly effective as well, but maybe annoying for some who don’t like being interrupted while reading.


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