“Can you hear me now?” Remember the Verizon ad? (As if pop culture will ever let us forget it).
When it comes to your news mobile app, let’s change it to, “Can you see me now?” Can you see the images, weather maps and graphics I just put in your Facebook feed on your cell phone/mobile device? Are you sure? Have you looked? Chances are your users might yell back, “No! They’re too small. It looks like an eye chart!”
We’ve been monitoring station feeds as they head into winter storms and we see one constant. The maps with snow/rain totals are almost impossible to see.
Stations are taking weather maps from their broadcast air or from the weather computer made for the broadcast and are just sticking them in the feed. Some folks assume that if it looks good on the PC/Weather monitor, it’ll look okay on a 4.5 inch phone screen.
That doesn’t work.
Imagine you’re in line at Target or walking down the street and that TV-made image came up on your feed. Some of the images are impossible to see and read. One station had a wide map saying tornado warning, but the view was so wide you couldn’t tell which communities were included.
You would never put an image on TV that viewers couldn’t see or understand. Can you say the same about what you’re sending to users’ mobile devices?
Here are some images I grabbed off my phone through the Facebook app. The size you see these images will vary based on the device on which you’re reading this, but you can get the idea. And if you are reading this on a smartphone you’ll really see what I’m talking about.
No offense to the stations identified here. They’re just ones we randomly picked; many stations have the same problem.
What are the solutions? Check with your weather graphics provider. They may already provide images sized for the phone. If not, demand it. Until then create a separate series of graphics designed for the phone screen.
And the problem isn’t just with weather graphics, of course. Digital, especially during severe weather, may be the primary source of information. Watch people at the mall or grocery store and see how much time they spend on their devices – and we know a significant amount of time if not the majority is on Facebook. Have you ever tried looking at a traffic map showing slow down areas on a Facebook app? It’s impossible. Chances are, on any given day, you actually might have more people see you on Facebook than over the air for some of your newscasts.
We highly recommend that posts with heavy graphic images be reviewed for quality on a smartphone. See what your users see and how they see it. Creating appropriate graphics for mobile could be a way to stand out and could actually become part of your digital plan. Make them say, “Yes, we can see you now.”