Not Sure Where To Start With Mobile Web Design And Development? Here’s What You Need To Know
by Andrew Millar
The days of desktop-based browsing are almost dead, with most users taking advantage of their mobile devices to surf the web and stay in touch. This has presented most website designers with novel challenges, as mobile devices place a number of constraints on mobile website design and development, including sharp display size restrictions. An emerging aspect of website design is to design for mobile first, and use these sensibilities to make websites that work both on mobile devices and desktops, without the need for two separate webpages.
When designing a mobile website, the main aim is to have a website that performs well on any device, while still feeling cutting edge and memorable. Below are seven mobile web design and development guidelines that create a memorable and intuitive mobile experience.
Understand your audience
Knowing what type of device your users are using is helpful to decide how you will design your mobile experience. How your users connect to the internet is also important; since this will impact how much data you can put into your website and still have it usable. If you want users to fill in forms online, having a reliable and steady internet connection is essential.
Understanding when your website is accessed is also essential. While the perception is that people will use their smartphones while they’re rushed and busy, the true case is that most people tend to browse when they have time to kill. This can have a large impact on how you structure and design your mobile experience. Make sure you research your audience before embarking on any mobile web design and development projects to ensure that you develop a website that meets their needs.
Have a streamlined portfolio of products
If the client has a large product portfolio, with multiple products on one or more platforms, hard design decisions have to be made to target the products that matter the most. Focusing the development and design helps ensure that performance is focused where it matters most. If most of the client base uses Android, focusing on an iOS app is a waste of time. A design priority matrix is extremely helpful in identifying which areas should be focused on and will be the most rewarding in the long run.
Optimizing UI flow
In the mobile world, each second counts as users don’t like having to wait. This means that individual screens and user interface elements need to flow in such a way as to increase perceived performance and prevent needless wait times. This can be done in two ways, first by disguising loading times with steps that are perceived as necessary, such as:
- Loading animations
- Pre-loading text before images
- Useful tips on how to use the website
Having these intermediate steps helps the user perceive the slow loading time (which is an aspect out of the control of the website designer) as something undergoing incremental progress, rather than a long delay.
Minimize text inputs
While it’s tempting to have forms where users enter data to help them in their navigation of your website, do remember that typing on a mobile device is annoying at best and disruptive at worst. Not only does it take the user out of the browsing experience, the keyboard will take up at least a third of screen space. If you are using web forms, limit the amount of text input you require and take into account user preferences, so don’t ask for long essays or lengthy responses, which are likely to disrupt user engagement.
Mobile website design is rapidly taking off, and there are many elements to consider when designing a mobile website.