ScienceDirect Now Mobile-Friendly

This week, ScienceDirect articles can be viewed in a way optimized for mobile devices. If you run a search in ScienceDirect (or get a link to an article in ScienceDirect), the database will recognized the dimensions of the device you are using and deliver you a version that is optimized for your device. If you’re on a desktop or laptop, you’ll see articles looking as they always have:

ScienceDirect--desktop view of an article

If you are on a mobile device, such as your phone, the article will look like this:

ScienceDirect--article viewed on mobile phone


If you want to try this yourself on your phone, here’s a link to the article pictured in the screenshots above.

Many databases are now being designed this way so that users on mobile devices aren’t required to first go to a special mobile website or a use a specialized app for for that database.

Mobile Databases Page


Mike Waldman and I completed work on the new LibGuide that will connect users to the subset of library databases that are optimized to work on mobile devices (by way of shorthand, we’ve taken to calling it the mobile databases page). Over time we expect to add more databases as more vendors offer mobile-optimized interfaces. The easiest way to find the page is by going to the Databases page, which now features a mobile phone icon and a link to the page near the top.

About the Databases

  • Two types of mobile interfaces: (1) web pages specially designed to render well in mobile phone browsers (2) apps that the user must download and install
  • Major vendors that offer mobile options: EBSCO, Wilson, LexisNexis, OCLC (for
  • Major vendors that don’t offer mobile options: Factiva, ProQuest
  • Many vendors who don’t have mobile options are working on ones now
  • Vendors that offer mobile options that we decided not to use (because they are inadequate): Gale
  • Authentication for mobile web interfaces go through EZ Proxy just like our other databases
  • Authentication for apps require different (read: clunky) ways of authenticating (such as launching the app while on the campus wireless network so it can be “registered” or “tethered”)

How the LibGuide Displays on Regular Browsers and Phone Browsers

  • If you are on a mobile phone and go to a LibGuide, the LibGuides server will be able to tell that you are on a phone and give you an alternate version of the page that is slimmed down and has a different URL from the regular version of the page.
  • The mobile version of any LibGuide collapses a multi-page guide into a single page.
  • Each page in the regular version of a LibGuide becomes a box on a page for the mobile version that can be opened and closed.
  • The links to the new mobile databases page on the library will point to the version that is optimized for mobile viewing
  • URL for the mobile optimized version:
  • URL for the regular version (note that the mobile version above has “content_mobile” as part of its URL):

Design Process for the LibGuide

  • Three rounds of usability testing with students generated lots of changes over time
  • Some changes suggested by the testing were counterintuitive to us but were what worked best for the students (e.g., rather than organize the databases into broad subject groups like “humanities,” “social sciences,” etc. we learned that students more readily grasped what subjects would be in what category if we offered a cluster of subjects (instead of “social sciences” we have “Psychology, Sociology, Communication”).