Gatwick Airport site suddenly becomes user unfriendly

London, UK airport web site may be victim of poor responsive web design

Here at GoMo Towers, we’ve been alerted to the fact that the web site operated by London (England)’s second largest airport may well have fallen victim to poor responsive design. We tried viewing the site via a Windows Phone 8 (WP8) handset – a Nokia Lumia 800 and confirmed what our source had claimed – the site has become almost unusable on a mobile phone. We suspect this almost certainly is the result of a web site redesign, since he first became aware of the problem when the bookmark he uses regularly for viewing flight arrivals at Gatwick suddenly reported an Error 404 file not found problem.

That’s a sure sign that the design has changed. Another clue is that Google still list the existence of a mobile site - http://m.gatwickairport.com.

However, when you try to access that particular page, you are taken straight to the regular home page – www.gatwickairport.com.

Viewing that page from the Lumia’s browser shows that it is being re-sized. But there are seriously errors.

When a surfer attempts to input a flight number to determine what its expected arrival time is predicted to be, the text box fails to trigger the handset’s onscreen keyboard.

We suspect this is because the site hasn’t been tested against WP8′s default Internet Explorer browser.

Useability also appears to have been ignored or not tested. The connexion to Gatwick’s server was so slow that it took about four minutes to scroll down the screen to view the flight in question.

Somebody, somewhere really needs to go back to the drawing board because here at GoMo News we’d calculate that approximately half of the views for the flight arrivals page are coming from either a smartphone or a tablet.

We’ll let you know if Gatwick Airport’s owners respond.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in Mobile Web, WP8 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Gatwick Airport site suddenly becomes user unfriendly

  1. I agree. Responsive design is not easy. This is a classic case of doing part of the job, i.e. using media queries and not much more. For big brands good responsive design requires server side components (RESS) as well, otherwise you lose in UX what you save in budget. This new site is sending large amounts of data, designed for desktop, to a mobile device which will often – especially for the person on the move – be using 3G/Edge/GPRS, not 4G or WiFi, and load/refresh very slowly as a result. Full device support is also very difficult without ‘adaptive’ design alongside RCSS and RESS and why this updated site now works on fewer handsets than before. Not surprisingly the site’s score on Ready.mobi has ‘crashed’ from full marks (for the m., which we did a couple of years ago) to 2/5. Type into Google “wikipedia responsive web design” and look at what design guru Luke Wroblewski has to say on the subject or look at our blog article entitled “RCSS: necessary, but not sufficient on its own” for best practice mobile responsive design, i.e. how the ‘big guns’ do it. (It’s not cheap though. If you are a small business then of course one or two templates with just media queries is probably all you can afford, but of course better than nothing.)

  2. The short version of my comment above is “one size does not fit all”. Simple responsive design works for desktops and tablets on WiFi but is a “false economy” for mobile users (i.e. smartphones on cellular; amongst the typical airport users). A PhD could be written on the subject! RCSS is not the panacea that some hope it to be.

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  4. Pingback: 3UK comes to rescue of stranded Sky broadband userGoMo News

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