Imgur has recently launched a beta version of their mobile website, it will detect mobile users and prompt them to try out this new version from Imgurs main website.
If you haven't heard of Imgur before they are an online image hosting service founded in 2009, created in response to the poor usability of similar services. Imgur, pronounced as image-er , provides free image hosting and a social community to millions. According to many it is the home of the web's most popular image content. Content is distributed throughout the community via comments, votes and shares.
After having tried the new mobile website out for a bit I am pleased to say that it is rather well done. A simple control panel at the top of the screen controls all the menu options and it retains almost all the functionality of its bigger desktop brother.
Below the control panel is a secondary search panel with two search parameters, these perform searches via popularity or rating, amongst others. The search options are almost the same as the bigger desktop version, only the 'meme' option and random mode is missing.
Most option buttons and input fields are of a decent size and even on a mobile device with a 3” screen the interaction elements are still large enough to be operated with the thumb.
One minor issue I experienced is with the menu button, which leads to the input search field and signup/register functions. The icon used for this is smaller than the other icons presented on the control panel and also seems unnecessarily squashed against the side of the screen. Additionally it sits close to the main gallery button which compounds the issue. I did experience the occasional mistouch on this menu icon, I think by spacing these control icons out further it would improve the overall usability. Otherwise I think they have done a great job.
Upon inspection the page rank of Imgurs mobile website is a reasonable 649KB and it takes 2.19 seconds to load the page. This isn't the slimmest website and won't win any speed awards, in monetary value it equates to 2.5p for a single page view on Vodafones tarrifs.
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My first impressions of the layout and aesthetics did not disappoint, it looks very much like its desktop counterpart so current users will have no problems with its use. I would actually dare to say I thought it looks better on a mobile device than a desktop, taking relative size into account and the limitations that brings.
The icons used throughout the site are instantly familiar and the black background theme helps cut down on unnecessary battery consumption. Although this dark theme is a replication of the desktop version it is an important point to note as many mobile websites lack consideration in this area.
The Imgur logo is absent so as to maximise the available space. Colour is kept to a minimum, with just a single green circular icon for the gallery and the two search parameters also sporting the green look.
The image thumbnails look crisp and the amount of columns for displaying images is responsive and detects mobile screen sizes. The thumbnails are a good size for quickly browsing through the images at a glance. However it is hard to read text on the thumbnails themselves and as any Imgur user can tell you; that is a sizeable proportion of the images. They could have used fewer columns for displaying the images, especially for smaller screens. However whilst that would improve visibility of individual images it would massively decrease the visibility of the amount of images viewable at any one time. Overall I think the trade-off is worth it.
Whilst the overall design and feel of the mobile site is very polished I feel the appearance of the menu doesn’t quite match up the rest of the design. But even as a beta version it is sufficient and arguably nicer than similar offerings.
What Imgur gained in good design elements and functional usability they lost in the performance rating. With such an image heavy site this is somewhat unavoidable and expected, after all you can't have a mobile website for image hosting without the images. Considering this is still a beta version I think they are on the right track. Both old and new users alike will find the mobile experience rewarding and entertaining. Imgur remains one of the most prominent places on the web to get or host your prescribed dose of memes, viral images and holiday snapshots, now in fully functional mobile form.
Final Score: 4/5
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