Less is more. More is more.
About a month ago, Brad Frost and Ethan Marcotte both tweeted a link to my article about content parity on the web.
Ethan literally wrote the book on RWD, and Brad Frost does more than anyone else I know to push the web design and development profession forward. They’re both kind of a big deal, and as a result the article gained a lot of traction.
A weird thing happened, though. Based on the tweets I read, for a lot of folks the takeaway of that article was, “Less is more when it comes to mobile.” And that’s not the point I was trying to make at all.
Sometimes less is more
Oakley’s monstrous 85mb site? Less is more. The average 1.2mb+ site? Less is still more.
Five steps to go through a checkout process when just two will do? An array of social sharing buttons? Endless menus and submenus in the navigation?
Less is more.
But sometimes, more is more
That mobile site that only shows you an address and phone number (because that’s all a mobile user will ever need, right)? More is more.
The restaurant that won’t show you the full menu (or any menu)? The retail site that removes reviews, photos, and detailed product information? And my favorite, the sites that won’t show you any content because they “only work on desktop browsers”?
In those cases, more is definitely more.
But content parity on the web is not about less content or more content. It’s about just the right amount of content. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Just right content
What does “just right content” look like?
It puts user needs ahead of flash and sizzle. It provides an obvious next step towards the few different goals a user may have - without being so presumptuous as to assume what those goals may be based solely on device type.
Just right content is accessible on any device, but it’s selective about what content is available in the first place. It doesn’t remove detail (like reviews and product details), but it may require an extra click to get there.
In the age of responsive web design, information architecture and content strategy become increasingly important. What information do visitors want, and how do they find it?
As Albert Einstein said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”