USA Today taps adaptive delivery for significant mobile site overhaul
By Chantal Tode
August 29, 2013
USA Today's new mobile site
USA Today is leveraging adaptive delivery to improve the experience for smartphone users based on their device type in a significant revamp of its Web site.
USA Today is the first of Gannett’s more than 100 mobile products to be developed on a code base that leverages a new CMS to seamlessly deliver content across desktop and mobile devices with a single URL. Gannett expects this to improve SEO and discoverability as well as enhance the probability of stories going viral.
“The product represents a significant breakthrough in the adaptive delivery of our content,” said David Payne, chief digital officer of Gannett, McLean, VA. “Unlike responsive design which essentially reformats and scales desktop sites down into mobile browsers, our adaptive delivery strategy enables us to detect your device and serve you the best experience based on your personal device characteristics, operating system type, screen size, connection speed and screen resolution.
“As a consumer, you will now see not only a much improved design and user experience, but you will also now receive the highest resolution photos and videos available based on your device and connection characteristics,” he said.
“Consumers will also notice the new app-like enhancements to the product such as super-fast page loading, simpler sharing and improved breaking news alerts that go directly to the story if it's available or allow users to easily dismiss them.”
A single URL
As news consumption increasingly moves to mobile, publishers have been in search of the most efficient way to deliver online content across smartphones, tablets, desktop and other devices.
In the past year, many have taken a responsive design approach, which reformats content based on device type, but USA Today is leveraging adaptive delivery, which delivers unique experiences for different devices.
Working from a single URL – www.usatoday.com – users will see different experiences based on their device type.
The single URL system will enable USA Today to make more content available for the mobile Web than ever before. It will also be able to deliver more video and photo gallery content inside articles.
Additionally, features such as sports scores, stock market data and weather info will be easier to access.
USA Today decided to revamp the site in response to the continued growth in mobile traffic that it is experiencing.
“Our traffic across Gannett is increasingly mobile and already tops 50 percent on USA Today, with a wide range of device types accessing our content,” Mr. Payne said.
“One size does not fit all, and we needed to rethink and reengineer our systems to enable the delivery of the most optimized content available in the highest resolution and best possible experience,” he said.
Faster page loads
For mobile users, USA Today is focusing on not delivering too much content so that page load times are faster. The new experience will also feature improved typography and a modern layout.
Some of the new characteristics of the mobile experience will include a more prominent and scannable menu system to make navigation easier while queues will make it easy for users to get to the news they want to read faster.
USA Today has also improved the search functionality on its site, so mobile users can quickly find the content they want based on keywords of interest.
When users find something they are interested in, they can easily share articles, videos and photo galleries with friends and followers on the major social media networks.
“On the design side, the most significant changes consumers will see are a cleaner UI with simpler navigation and sharing as well as the inclusion of significant media assets to our home and section fronts,” Mr. Payne said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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