6 simple rules for designing mobile websites

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November 13, 2014
6 simple rules for designing mobile websites.
thumbnailIt is projected by ComScore the by the end of 2014, around 1.75 billion people worldwide will use smartphones regularly. That means that those who’ll be the first to adapt to this rapidly growing segment of the market will reap the most benefits and enjoy the most success. What that means to your business is that you have to be easily accessible through all the different devices, and thus your web design has to cater not only to computer users, but also to smartphones. Here are six simple rules that will help you ensure your site is optimized for mobile:

1) Know your target audience

One of the best things about working online is that you can use analytics to track almost any data and use it to make tremendous improvements on all parts of your business. So when approaching your design for mobile users you should also not be satisfied with creating a one-size-fits-all solution. Analyse the data and figure out what types of devices are most commonly used by your visitors and then base your design solutions on that – you might be surprised that a significant percentage of them actually don’t use Android or iPhone systems. After you get the information you need, you can build your site in a way that will be the most convenient to the largest portion of your audience. Of course, you should still make sure that your website can be visited from any device.

2) Context is key

Since mobile websites will seldom have the same functionality as the full website, web designers should make it a priority to figure out what are your visitors mainly looking for when visiting the website and then make sure it is easily accessible. Often what they are looking for is simply your contact information like the phone number and email address, so you should always have them prominently featured and easy to tap on the touch screen. But sometimes they might be looking for specific information, or even booking/ordering options — if you can make all of these easy to find and navigate through then you’re well on your way to creating a great experience for mobile users.

3) Think of touch screen users

As was briefly mentioned previously, it’s important to make everything easy to tap with the finger when visiting your website on a mobile device — this means that for users to have an easy browsing experience, you should try and incorporate larger buttons and links that can be effortlessly tapped with a finger. Also, don’t forget to leave a comfortable amount of white space around links and buttons so that they don’t end up getting in each other’s way when the user is trying to tap on one of them.

4) Keep the design simple

Remember, when designing a mobile website, your goal is not to “wow” your visitors with stunning design and graphics, but to help them navigate everything easily without having to worry about bandwidth or long load times. That’s why you should carefully plan out your design to only include the important stuff and keep the design itself clean and basic, striving for simplicity instead of bulky design. Still, you don’t want to go overboard in the other direction either — it’s important that your website, while remaining elegant and simple, still maintains a certain distinction and does not become too generic.

5) Opt for single column layouts

Now while you have many layout options when designing a website for desktop users, with mobile you really only have one option if you want the design to remain easy to navigate. Although smartphones do have relatively big screens, it’s still annoying when you have to scroll through multiple columns to find what you’re looking for, so stick with single column layouts for the best results.

6) Integrate social media

One of the best things about mobile users is that they tend to be very open to the idea of sharing everything on their social media feeds. This is great news for you because if you craft your design in a way that lets mobile visitors easily share what they find interesting on social media, you can get yourself a lot of exposure. So always have links to your social media site presence, and also set up Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media buttons on all the pages of your website.

Conclusion

With the constant growth in the number of global mobile users, a company that wants to stay relevant online must cater to their needs. So making your website design mobile-friendly is a top priority – you can achieve it by figuring out who are your mobile visitors, what are they looking for on your site, and then making their experience as easy and seamless as possible. Featured image/thumbnail, mobile image via Shutterstock.

Shayne Moore

Shayne Moore is the founder and director of MINT DESIGN. He is passionate about design, digital marketing and brand development. Feel free to share your thoughts with him on Twitter @mintdesignnz.

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