The growth of mobile has been astronomical. According to a recent eMarketer study, by 2019 there will be 304.4 million mobile users in North America. Compare that number to 2013, when there were 274 million, and it’s no surprise that this type of platform has become such an integral part of website design and online marketing.
To accommodate users, regardless of industry, you should be taking steps to create a version of your website that is entirely optimized for mobile (if you haven't already). Without a mobile-friendly site it will be next to impossible for your brand to keep up with competition and produce significant growth. At the end of the day, if you’re unable to effectively reach what is most likely a large portion of your audience because your website isn’t easily accessible when users are on-the-go, you’re missing out on a variety of opportunities. To help achieve your business objectives, stay relevant, and ultimately continue generating profits, a well-optimized mobile site is critical.
When you’re beginning the design process, to ensure that you’re providing an optimal user experience, it’s crucial that you take the time to consider usability and how your audience will be engaging with the site. Consider the best practices highlighted below to create a user interface that both potential and existing customers can effortlessly access from their smartphones and tablets:
Define Your Audience
Your audience should be the utmost focus of nearly every decision made with a mobile website design. After all, they’re the reason why you’re creating one in the first place. Tailor your design in a way that is catered to meet the needs and interests of your audience. For example, perhaps your brand targets an older audience. If that’s the case, you may want to make the text larger than you normally would, and use a simpler navigation that contains familiar icons. On the other hand, if you’re creating a website that is targeted at children, you want an even simpler user interface, with bigger buttons that are easy for even the youngest of audiences to click.
Use a Design Pattern That Makes Sense
Simplicity is a cardinal rule with mobile website design. You want to make sure your site is straightforward and uncomplicated. Keeping users in mind as you design is critical - you want an interface that will be intuitive for your customers to use, and something that they can understand without thinking. If a potential customer has to spend time searching for a simple element of your website, you’ve already lost them.
The “hamburger menu,” a three-lined menu icon, is a great example of this idea of familiarity. It’s a symbol that users actively look for on a mobile device because they recognize it as a universal icon that will lead them through your navigation. Focus on familiarity and classic layouts.
In general, there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” and develop something completely foreign from what users are acclimated to (unless that’s the purpose of the website). Your customers are on-the-go. You don’t want to confuse them with an overly-complex navigation or throw them off with tricky functionalities as they travel through your site. Keep them moving towards each conversion point by keeping it simple and sticking to a layout that will enable seamless engagement.
Know The Device You’re Designing For
There are a few things to keep in mind when you think about the devices that your website is going to be accessed from. One important area of focus should be how users are actually clicking and scrolling through your site — with their fingers. A finger is much larger than a mouse pointer, so your buttons should be bigger to reflect that, making it easier for users to actually click a button. A good rule of thumb — literally — is about 30 pixels for button dimensions.
When it comes to smartphones and tablets, there will always be some technological limitations to think about. For the most part, you’re unable to gauge how people are connected to the internet each time they visit your site — it could be with WiFi or with a data connection. You want to make sure that the site is loading properly on their phone, so sometimes animations, high-quality videos, or auto-play videos can slow down speed or be distracting. It’s sometimes best to avoid those elements altogether on mobile.
When possible, stay away from overlays and multiple mobile windows. These things can drastically impact the way the page flows, and take away from usability. Anything that is disruptive to the user-experience can interrupt the path that the user is on, possibly resulting in them leaving your site, or not moving forward.
Trim Down the Site
The real estate on a mobile screen should be used wisely. Designers are working with a lot less space than they’re used to on a desktop website, so you have to really focus on being quick and efficient when delivering content and messaging. You’re forced to accomplish the goals of your website in a significantly smaller space compared to the desktop version of your site. Remove any functionalities or effects on the mobile experience that may look nice on desktop, but are simply not be feasible on a phone.
Avoid things like jump links, where the user clicks and is carried from the top of the site to the bottom. This can be incredibly confusing on a mobile phone and be disruptive to the user-experience. Users are familiar with scrolling and long form content, so don’t be afraid to use a long scroll to bring them all the way down the page to provide them with valuable content to absorb. That being said, this doesn’t mean you should inundate your readers with an excessive amount of written copy or break down content into different sections and pages. Keep them on one page, moving further down with each line.
An easy-to-read layout is a key component of a successful site. Content that is too difficult to digest because of font size won’t get read, and therefore won’t give you the opportunity to prove value. Never use small text on mobile, causing customers to strain their eyes as they attempt to absorb it. Instead, use large, clear typography that is easy on the eyes.
Don’t over-do it with images and other design elements on mobile because you run the risk of being disruptive to the reader. Sometimes, large images can be incredibly impactful when used appropriately, however, you don’t want to overpower the content that is there. A clean design with cohesive messaging, large font, and appropriate spacing will provide a far better user-experience than those that lack these elements.
Don’t Confuse Desktop and Mobile
In order to be successful with your mobile designs, desktop and mobile should be different. That being said, it doesn’t mean they should contain drastically diverse look and feels. The overall experience should be similar on both, but each version should be tailored to how the users are accessing it. It’s impossible to meet both the needs of desktop and mobile visitors with the same exact design.
To create a consistent experience that still is tailored to each user, it’s often a good idea to develop the mobile design first. If designed strategically and as it should be, the mobile design will contain all of the core essentials of the website, so when you move forward to the desktop version, you can have the same starting point, but keep adding to it to enhance it with more design aesthetics as needed.
Mobile Friendly Website Design
Mobile designs should be almost entirely focused on the user and their respective needs. In order to accomplish business objectives and to successfully generate engagement and conversions, your customers need to be accessing a site that is easy-to-use on their devices. When you’re creating a mobile website, integrate best practices into your company’s design approach to effectively and efficiently connect with your audience in a way that will also benefit your brand.