View full site - the worst anti-pattern
The “view full site” link has fostered a negative behavioural trait. When faced with problems on a dedicated mobile site users have a tendency to look for the full site link like some sort of safety net.
How often have you arrived on a broken link on a dedicated mobile site from a search engine and looked for the full site link in an attempt to solve the problem? It’s instinctive among web savvy people, but I have witnessed people outside of our industry perform the same behavioural trait in a similar unconscious manner.
The sad truth is “view full site” can also be used by web developers as a safety net if the small screen experience isn’t good enough. The pinch-to-zoom fallback is there when a poor implementation fails and lazy web developers capitalise on the user’s newfound habits of correcting such website issues by clicking this magical link.
This leaves responsive designers in a difficult position. We are already on the back foot when the user arrives at our lovingly tailored responsive experience — we have to convince the user that our responsive design is the full experience after years of being misled to think they are getting half a product by dedicated mobile sites overzealous in removing content and stripping back features
Part of the problem is that from the average user’s perspective a dedicated mobile site may not look too different to a responsive site on the surface. If they run into problems with our design or perhaps they expected to see some content that is missing because it was simply overlooked, do they feel misled by default?
So how do we fix this problem? By continuing to fight the good fight with ubiquitous experiences and earning back the user’s trust over time — it’s not going to be a quick fix. Bad habits take time to eradicate. The great content swindle needs to stop.