For the longest time, designing website more or less remained the same. As new technologies emerged, we were able to make sites look better and add far more extensive functionality to them, but websites remained formatted the same basic way with very little change for years and years – that is, until mobile devices absolutely exploded in the last few years. What makes a mobile website truly great, though? Today we’re going to look at 5 design tips for making better mobile friendly websites.
The first tip should be obvious, but going around the internet lately it doesn’t seem to be so. Just because the full website is absolutely chock full of features, all linked on the front page does not mean that the mobile site needs to be exactly the same. To be certain – the end user still needs to be able to access all these features, but the use of sub menus is crucial. The space that is available on mobile should be used very wisely.
On the other side of the coin, another extremely valuable tip is that you cannot sacrifice what your website is about to make a “good looking” mobile site. Take what your website is about and make a mobile site that captures that as well as it can. Don’t make a pretty mobile site at the cost of the primary goal of your website. If you run a blog, put the latest or most important post at the top. If you have a website for your business and it has a physical location, make sure people know how to contact you and get to your business.
Another tip that far too few mobile web designers heed is that you need to optimize for mobile devices – and test to make sure it’s optimized enough. These days, so many websites are extremely resource intensive that their full versions could never work on all but the newest mobile platforms. Sure, your extremely intensive mobile site might work on the fancy new devices, and it might look better for it, but if you have to sacrifice a huge portion of your user base that is still using older mobile devices, it’s not really worth the better looks.
Our fourth tip comes from a choice that many designers are forced to make rather early – which platform should they develop for first? The fact is that in this age, it’s probably better to develop for mobile first. The traditional line of web design thought says that you should make the desktop version first and the mobile version should be an afterthought – but we live in a rapidly changing world, and mobile is becoming the dominant force. That said, if your site is still centered around things that are still much better on desktop, such as extensive text entry, you should design for desktop first – but always keep mobile in mind, and never ever allow it to become an afterthought.
The final tip, and perhaps the most important is rather basic – design a website that you know that people can actually use. This might require usability testing, but designing from a user’s perspective is the most important thing you can do. These are the people that will eventually use the website, and they are your most important guideline.
Hopefully these five tips will save you from becoming lost in the sea of confusion that is modern mobile website development. The fact is that the world deserves better mobile websites, and as web designers, it is your job to continue and make these sites better.