To help with certain elements of this article, I asked Jared Lee for his thoughts on the matter. He is a digital marketing consultant and Kansas City SEO Expert with Vibranium SEO. He understands user intent and internet trends better than most and works closely with web designers on mobile marketing campaigns.
It’s nothing new that anything related to computers or the internet changes at breakneck speeds. Many times as graphic designers, we get used to doing things a certain way, just like anybody else in a profession does. The thing that we have gotten used to the most is designing websites with the idea that they will be visited from a desktop or laptop computer. This is something that will probably have to change and, in many ways is changing today, due to the increased usage of smartphones that are used to access the internet.
We all understand the importance of a website to be responsive, meaning that if you visit it from a desktop or a smartphone, the site will adjust to the size of the screen and give the user a better experience. But usually, these are designed for desktops and just make usable for a mobile device at least from a design point of view. What I believe we will have to do in the coming years is design websites with the mobile user in mind and the desktop user as the after thought. I say this because we can look at the numbers and see the trend, the main one being that 60% of local searches for a product or business are done on a smartphone.
Just a few years ago, people may have used their phones to search for things but they intended to make purchases on their home computer. Now, they are searching and buying things from their smartphones. This is a major change and could perhaps leave many website designers in the dust if we don’t understand the trend and adapt to what people are doing. So to help out, I’m going to outline some major elements of mobile web design that can put you ahead of the game.
Keep It Simple
One of the first things that you should keep in mind is that when you are designing a website with the user in mind being on a smartphone, you should keep the design simple. You’re working with a smaller screen so you don’t want to overcrowd an already small space with too many images or effects. Use of complimentary colors, images, and word spacing are things that help on the smaller screen, as well as the use of bulleted lists and using bold font on important words. Remember that you’ve only got a few seconds to engage someone enough to continue to stay on a site, especially when that site is on their smartphone and they can click over to Candy Crush the moment they lose interest.
Keep It Light
You’ll want to design a site that is quick to load, especially on a mobile device. If a site takes too long to load, then people will just try another site. You have to get their attention quickly and that means creating a site that is light and loads quickly. Optimize images and other elements to compress better so the loading times are much quicker.
Think Fingers Instead of Mouse Clicks
The biggest difference when designing a site for mobile devices compared to a desktop is that you have to think about the fact that whoever visits your site is going to be navigating with their fingers, not a mouse. You want things to be easily accessible with the touch of a finger. You don’t want the buttons to be too small where it’s hard to open and you don’t want them to be too big where they take up too much of the page either. In my experience, it’s all about balance in this area and testing things out. Feel free to try out different versions of your design and test it out with people around you to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.