Barclays  : Thinking mobile last

Content is not optimised for a mobile-optimised site

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The feature

Barclays, UK-based banking group, has used its website to explain its latest restructuring, but with little attention to mobile users.

Barclays last week announced a major restructuring that will lead to significant job losses. When viewed on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer, its home page is headed by a Group Strategy Update panel that includes an embedded explanatory video by the CEO, Antony Jenkins, and links to three PDF documents. A ‘More in Investor Relations’ link gives access to a detailed audio webcast with synchronised slides.

On a smartphone, a mobile-optimised version of the site is displayed. The Group Strategy Update features on the home page but does not carry the video, and has links to two PDF documents but not to the investor section. Visitors clicking through to Investor Relations will find that it does not promote the webcast – a ‘presentations’ link leads back to the desktop site, from where a Quicktime version can be found.

The takeaway

The old image of the banker permanently glued to a mobile phone may be well out of date, but it does seem strange that Barclays has done so little to serve smartphone users. It has created a mobile version of its site, yet it neither includes the main video – which plays on a tablet so does not rely on Flash – nor a version of the documentation that can be sensibly read. PDFs are really not helpful on small screens: the fonts, especially in dense documents such as this, are so small that they are at the least eye-straining to read. Meanwhile the investor webcast is not promoted, even though it plays well on a phone.

Statistics about desktop versus mobile web users are often meaningless – so many have access to both types of screen. However, it does not take much imagination to think that many people seeing this announcement over their breakfast will have pulled out the nearest web-enabled device to learn more – and will have been irritated. Perhaps lawyers insisted the documents should be in PDF – but such lawyers need to be educated in things like usability (perhaps by the CEO, who has spoken about the need to be digitally savvy). And it is hard to see any reason at all why video disappears and the webcast is tucked out of the way.
First published 13 May, 2014
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