Viewing a website on a smaller screen can require constant scrolling both horizontally and vertically, which detracts from the effectiveness of a website. Graphics need to be altered in order to fit the screens, and the content needs to be parsed differently in order to maximise use of the entire viewing area.
There are those who advise against creating a mobile web design that is separate from the original website. They argue that it can be detrimental to the company due to consumers not recognising the layout. However, this is not deterring most companies from seeking knowledgeable professionals to optimise their company's appearance on the mobile web.
In a counter argument to those whose outcry is that of detriment, most companies suggest that not compacting their internet presence for mobile phones is more of a slight against their company than leaving their sites alone. With the rise of smartphones, consumers are often leaving their laptops at home and often work straight from their phone when they are on the go. Enabling people to have a better view of their content on these miniscule screens ensures that their content and products are not overlooked in favour of a company who is mobile web optimised.
Alongside new layout designs, content refinement is a must. Where full scale websites can contain hundreds of words for any given product, for a mobile device this isn't practical. The more condensed the content, the faster a consumer is able to get to the information they want and the faster they are able to make an informed decision. Mobile phones are meant to make things faster, smoother and more accessible, and the content should reflect this fast-paced lifestyle with tighter and more concise content.
Design specifically intended for the mobile web is just as important as condensed material. Smaller graphics with eye-catching themes are better able to not only fit on the screen, but also capture the audience faster. Banners are no longer necessary to fill real estate on screen and should be avoided. The overuse of graphics and pictures are often detriments to the work at hand. Unless there is a specific need for pictures, they are merely taking up important space.
However, overly minimalist designs can bring their own problems. Tabs to get between one content type to another are more useful on mobile devices than they ever were on typical websites. A more streamlined appearance is necessary, but there should be elements that users are familiar with, such as easy to navigate links, search areas and easy to access site links that are spaced out to give the user more ease in clicking the correct link.
Did you know that in some countries most individuals go straight to their smartphones and often completely bypass older forms of internet browsing such as desktop PCs and laptops? Some even avoid other newer devices such as the iPad due to how much easier it is to carry a sleek, slender phone with them. Ease of use and ease of travel are hand-in-hand with the mobile web.
Other than ease of use, here are a few examples of the wonders that can be accomplished with mobile design and can make or break a good site on a smartphone's screen:
• Responsive menus help guide viewers through the maze of concise information. Making navigation easier is one of the highlights of mobile web design, as it enables the user to have so much more information at their fingertips than can actually fit onto the screen at any given time.
• Designs that are made with your fingers in mind are the greatest assets. If your customers are not able to click on a link, image or menu option, then they are more likely to move on to better laid-out designs without a second thought. Optimising space means not just making the content more compact, but also spacing things out so that touch screens aren't a hindrance for your site.
• With the function of the on-screen keyboards comes the wonderful option to have auto-suggest turned on for websites, as well as auto-correct. Searching becomes a breeze when this feature is implemented into your mobile web design.
However, with all things, there are a few cons to go with the pros. Mobile surfing is no different. Here is why:
• The growing trend with mobile devices are applications. These apps are becoming ever more popular than websites, and there are apps for nearly everything you can think of already. Most of these apps are free, and those that are not are often cheap. Why is this a detriment? Any website can be made into an app in the right hands. However, now that you know this, it doesn't have to be a problem for long.
• Design models can differ between mobile platforms. What can work on an iPhone may not look right on an iPad or Android. With most companies focusing on the iOS world, Android cannot be ignored as the Google Android platform is swiftly garnering almost as much attention as its Apple equivalent.
Mobile web design is evolving faster than ever. Differences in design, coding and layouts are streamlined at a lightning pace. Now, with just the touch of a finger on a screen, mobile devices are giving people more entertainment and information than standard computers. With this new era in internet browsing in full effect, design is more crucial than ever to keep up with the times. With this in mind, research, observe and watch the future of the internet unfold.
Our in-house experts, here at Melon, would welcome the opportunity to discuss in-depth how your website responds to the changes in how users browse the web, and how you can use it to your full advantage. Click here to contact us.
See also, our article on Responsive Design.
Written by Melon, an established web design agency in Milton Keynes.