If you routinely visit IEEE Spectrum on your phone, you've probably noticed some big changes recently. If you've never tried looking at this site on your phone, now's the perfect time to start! We've made major overhauls to the the mobile view—here's a brief sample of what's new.
Long gone are the days of redirecting phones to a separate m.spectrum.ieee.org domain. Now, the mobile-friendly version of the site is served from the exact same pages as the desktop site, which means it's always up to date. (Removing redirection also makes the mobile pages load faster.)
By serving both desktop and mobile views from a common page, we're now able to bring more of the desktop browser features to the phone. For example, now you'll find a dropdown menu in the mobile view that you can use to drill down to content the same way you can on the main site. It allows you to easily access the articles from the current month's magazine issue (and archive of past issues), browse by topic, or explore our in-depth special reports.
The mobile homepage features the top stories from each of our three tabs (most recent, most viewed, and most commented), and article layouts include all the photos and graphics of the desktop site.
"Responsive" vs "Adaptive" and the Need for Speed
If you follow the field of web design, you may be familiar with the debate between "responsive" designs (where all page elements continually resize to fit any display) and "adaptive" designs (which focus more on making layouts that are usable across a subset of sizes). We decided to take the adaptive approach in this iteration of the site, largely because it allowed us to build mobile pages that load much faster.
Under the hood of our new mobile web design is a software library called Mobify.js. It allows us to pick and choose which elements of a page get loaded to the mobile view. This makes the site faster, because we only load the assets that are needed, and nothing that we don't need. We're working on a few additional performance tweaks to images that should make pages load even faster.
Native Multimedia, No Flash Necessary
In the new design you'll notice how easy it is to watch videos, listen to podcasts, and view photo slideshows. Multimedia elements are sized to the screen and YouTube videos play through the native iOS or Android player.
More Features on the Horizon
This is just the beginning of our mobile improvements. In the coming months you'll be able to enjoy full-featured comment sections and site-wide search. In the meantime if you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I'd like to thank our talented development team who worked hard on this project: Ken Liu, Maurice Cruz, Mythili Bagavandas, and Venugopal Giriyappanavar.
Joshua J. Romero is a software developer and journalist. A former IEEE Spectrum senior editor, he holds a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and physics from the University of Arizona and a master’s in journalism from New York University.