In the past few years, there has been a drastic increase in mobile usage and a corresponding drop in desktop internet usage. Going by this trend, the default approach employed by many designers when designing for a mobile device is to make the site more responsive by scaling down desktop access. However, designers need to thoroughly examine a client's business needs to understand the importance of mobile access for a specific business.
For instance, if your client has primarily desktop or laptop users, you can only work on enterprise-level access to a tool that will be accessed from workstations only. Here, you don’t have to worry about mobile access. But you require a mobile-first design approach if your client wants an online store or has customers working online. To reach a wider audience and grow a client’s business, your website needs to be accessible and workable when accessed from a variety of devices. Therefore, it is essential to create a good mobile web strategy before you start designing.
Below we provide a few best practices for mobile experience design to benefit your business as well as the clients:
1. Clear, Focused Content: Minimalism is the key factor when designing a great mobile user experience. Due to the fast pace of life and small touch screens, it is crucial that navigation and search are as easy as possible. Try and keep useless information to a minimum and have a central focus for each page, especially the homepage. It is also important to guide users in case you use special screen gestures so that it is easier for them to navigate through the site. Mobile users appreciate small things that enhance their mobile experience and that also helps your business.
2. Simple Menus and Smooth Navigation: For mobile, a menu should appear as a drop-down icon on the top left or right of the screen to avoid wastage of space and make the site appearance better. Moreover, everything needs to be easily accessible on mobile devices, so it is best to avoid multi-level menus with sub-menus to appear on hover. Users tend to leave a site if they have to tap through 3 or 4 menu levels to find what they need. It is crucial to make the best possible use of mobile screen space and concentrate on the key message when designing for mobile purposes. Although desktop sites have better leverage in screen space and a lot of additional data can be added, it is still better to use a minimalistic approach even for desktop sites so users can easily browse through your site and appreciate the simplicity.
3. Fluid Layouts: To ensure proper display on devices of different screen dimensions, it is important to keep the layouts flexible and fluid. Instead of designing for a fixed pixel width, make sure your site works well on all common screen sizes. Use fluid layouts to deliver a more responsive and useful site design.
4. Design for Touch: With the reduced use of desktop devices, our interaction with the web using the keyboard and mouse have also come down drastically. Touch is now the primary mode of interaction with a site and, therefore, an increasing amount of care is required to design for touch. You need to take into consideration fingers of all shapes and sizes and configure your site to respond to that mode of association. Designers need to ensure all forms, buttons and other elements on their site are large enough to avoid overlapping with adjacent elements in case of a touch input and that all touch gestures are easy to interpret and use.
5. Minimal Forms: Using touch on a small screen definitely doesn’t make for a great typing experience. So, it is important to keep forms small and simple with the least number of fields for mobile sites. Try and pre-fill default fields and use auto-fill for other common fields. As an example, you can make use of visual calendars instead of having users type the date.
Moreover, you can add a progress bar for forms longer than a single screen to indicate the progress to users. The label placement also plays an important role to help users fill online forms. You can place the labels above the input field to make sure they are clearly visible, even if the device zooms in on the input field when the user's type. Top aligned labels also make scanning fields easier and keep track while users scroll down the page.
6. Minimize Images: Site performance is mostly based on two parameters: size and speed. The size needs to be accurate and speed needs to be great to retain users. It is, thus, recommended to avoid adding images to achieve any fancy effects and try and incorporate CSS in your design so that there are lesser special effects using images. Remember, the site need not be 100% pixel perfect to the design across all devices.
Again, drop the use of fancy text as images in your website design and, instead, use fancy fonts to achieve the desired effect. Minimize the use of extra images as much as possible so as to keep the site footprint and page load times lower.
7. Use Mobile Specific Features: Mobile devices have several additional features like GPS, calling, slide to unlock and other sensors that are not available on desktop devices. Find ways to make use of these features to make your website experience interesting and exceptional. Simple features like “Tap to Call” on the contact page, easier sharing across social media platforms or GPS to offer location-specific information and services can make your website a distinguished one for the users.
Following the above-mentioned practices can help designers offer a unique and enticing website to their audience and get better traffic for their business.