By Syed Tawseef Ali
The web is not a desktop — it is an interweave of phones, tablets, TV’s, laptops and desktops of every shape and size. Accessibility of the content is an important factor.
During a panel entiled “Demystifying mobile for investigations” at the recent IRE Conference in San Antonio, experts in web design and content presentation from the Knight Lab, The Indianapolis Star and The Wall Street Journal explained how mobile applications and responsive web design are changing the way stories are told.
The ability of a reader to access the information at any time and given situation is of the utmost importance. For that, the panelists said, it is important to understand the difference between native apps and web apps.
Native apps are hardware-specific applications with a wide range of functionality respective to the ability of the portable device. Web Apps, on the other hand, are rendered in an internet browser.
Today there are thousands of devices with even more hardware diversities. WEb apps offer flexibility with such hardware diversity, since native apps are hardware-specific, said Miranda Mulligan, Executive director of the Knight News Innovation Laboratory.
Mulligan says that we are now in a time which is beyond desktop storytelling, and the redesign of a page to fit a mobile screen really matters.
“I have laid in my bed for several hours and read on my phone,” said Mulligan.
During the Boston Marathon bombing, readers interacted with The Wall Street Journal app, which focused on increased fluidity for users. David Ho of The Wall Street Journal mentioned that their flagship application for apple IOS takes advantage of the hardware.
Mobile-first journalism is the term Ho used to describe providing for an audience that consists primarily of mobile users.
When it comes to mobile experience, Ho recommends refraining from using Flash, to double check every graphic on a smaller screen and to take advantage of mobile hardware such as 360 degree gyroscopic photos.
Syed Tawseef Ali is a journalism student at Texas A&M-San Antonio