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Google crushes content to boost mobile friendliness

Google forced the creation of so-called mobile sites?  Rant on.  Last week I published a list of Medication Management technologies that could be useful to baby boomers. Great. This week I looked at those websites a bit more closely, not squinting at my phone, but instead from my desktop PC. I selected a few of them – stared at the full motion video on the desktop sites, and ran their URLs through the Google Mobile Friendly-ness test. I also put in MobiHealthNews and (Google says not mobile friendly). The URL for  was deemed mobile friendly, but when searching via Google for, I was directed to an Overview page (not friendly). Then I look at the tortured feedback on Google’s own recommended forum about this topic: So many sites have been failing this test -- with their owners fixing and then pleading with Google to take another look.

Google hates text – but text explains how products work.  Here is a visual comparison from Google on the difference between mobile friendly and unfriendly.  So let’s go look at one of the medication tool sites. The desktop version of Medisafe leads with full motion video (what’s the point?) and leads off with the chance to text the download of the app to your phone (Type in your phone number ???? Seriously?). The phone version skips the motion and offers the choice to download now.  But what does this thing do? Still don’t know. On Google Play (without downloading it), I actually found all of the text about what it does and how ‘intuitive’ it is to use it. On the web version, I searched for the word ‘intuitive’ and did not find it.

The Internet changes everything – will the future of aging be better? Joseph Coughlin thinks so. He expresses optimism about the future of aging – baby boomer expectations will push for Apple-like capabilities that match his delight at being able to purchase his new laptop while airborne. No doubt it is very satisfying to have a transaction complete when compared to entering a store.  But maybe he is talking about the future of aging of the well-to-do – four in ten boomers have nothing saved for retirement -- can they afford up to $1700 or more for a new MacBook? And it seems that baby boomers are reluctant to adopt smartphone apps to manage their health. Uh, perhaps they don’t have smartphones! Or if they do have smartphones, their phone-based world is all about social media, not about learning an app that they didn’t know.

Google’s mobile friendly test will help wipe the Internet of content boomers need.  Texting your friends is not the same as reading content you need. Like helping to solve the $289 billion cost of medication non-compliance.  Note the recommendations for solving the problem (no app mentioned there!). Note the significance of the cost of medications and consider the rise in the cost of generic drugs. Back to Medisafe – and this is not picking on them – that app is just an example. After downloading, you put a medication name to set a reminder. Maybe it’s a newly prescribed one, though. How about learning a bit more -- what’s the cost of this pill? Tell me choices from 4-5 retailers, with/without insurance, side effects, long-term effects, generic, non-generic.  One might want to read a bit of text. Too bad. We are all so mobile now – says Google, in order to get more ad revenue from phone users. Are we distracted by dependency on smartphones? Even our doctors are distracted by their phones -- is that a dosage lookup or a Facebook snappy chat with a cute kitty photo?   But actually reading paragraphs of text – that’s so yesterday. Rant off.


There are certain times when a picture and an audible description (like fixing the food chopper on the dishwasher) are very helpful.  That is more the exception than the rule.  The written language has a purpose.  It lets you go back to it and it lets you think about what is being said.  Does it take a bit longer?  YES!  The world needs to slow down a lot.  I will continue to look for the written word.

Laurie, your rant was actually very well-reasoned.  I think that one thing that has happened is that many companies are forgetting that the whole mobile-friendly thing, for now at least, only affects MOBILE search results.  A lot of companies have missed that point.  For the time being, there is little value for them in rushing to poorly-thought-out and dysfunctional quick fix solutions.

Also, a lot of companies are making the mistake of creating completely different mobile versions of their websites that are app-like and very separate from their desktop sites.  They should be looking at redesigning their sites with responsive, responsive design tools and principles. 

Tim Colling


Hi Laurie:  

I don't disagree.  I only pointed out that if you're in a market segment that is not likely to have a lot of mobile searches, it may not matter.  For example, if you're a restaurant, it may matter a lot, but if you're an elder law attorney or a hospital, maybe less so.

I certainly think that it's important to design new sites or new site re-designs in a mobile-friendly manner.  Every site that I have ever built has been based on mobile-responsive designs.


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