With the smartphone’s invention, more and more Americans are accessing the web from their mobile devices. Some of you may be reading this blog from your iPhone right now! According to a report published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Mobile Access 2010, 38 percent of U.S. cell phone users accessed the internet from their phones in the past year. With Comscore publishing a report estimating that 234 million Americans over 13 were mobile phone subscribers, we can safely deduce that 89 million Americans assessed the mobile web within the past year.
Thoughtful web design takes into account the end-users experience. It is not enough to design something that works; the plan must create the “Wow” factor with the user. Some of the best sites consider the type of device the page is viewed on, including the resolution, color options, and available functions. They don’t just rely on the device to figure it out. Additionally, many thumb rules used in designing a website for a PC or MAC do not carry over to a mobile website. Let’s look at some challenges, best practices, and things to avoid when designing for mobile devices.
Include only pertinent information. Mobile screens have only a fraction of the area or pixels on most PC monitors. This means that it is important only to show the essential information. This means identifying page requests from mobile phones and only including the most crucial content. Otherwise, pulling up a non-mobile website on a mobile device may push important information down or cause it to be difficult to find amongst everything else on the page.
The reasons for web use on mobile devices differ from those on your PC or MAC. Please consider why most people use their mobile devices for the web instead of their PC or MAC. Often, mobile users look for directions, a schedule or agenda of what is going on at a particular location, or simple entertainment that will help them pass the time. Remember, your mobile site should allow users to access this information quickly.
Screen real estate is precious. Please don’t repeat the navigation on a mobile website; keep it only on the homepage. On other pages, only include links back to the homepage and back to the last important point along the path users have taken. Show these links at the top and bottom of the page so they’re never too far away. Make sure images are small or on a mobile website, or minimal. Although pictures and video are visually pleasing on a PC or MAC, on a mobile device, you are more likely to slow down the connection and take up valuable space, causing frustration to the end-user.
Simplicity and Clarity. Allow users to input information as simply as possible. This can allow users to make selections instead of inputting information through free text. Typing on mobile devices can be painfully slow and more error-prone. Besides, clearly distinguish selected items since mobile devices have poor cursor control.
To fulfill the end user’s needs, creating a mobile website and following these suggestions is imperative. If possible, test your website on different mobile devices or seek out using an emulator that will allow you to view your designs. Lastly, keep up with new trends as mobile device technology is always changing; awareness of these updates will aid in successful innovation.