The Winds of Change for Mobile Phone Web Design

Once upon a time, web developers designed beautiful websites to be viewed on desktop computers. There were variations between browser types and screen resolutions, but that was all in a day’s work.

Massive growth in mobile phones is causing a huge re-evaluation in web design and development.  Designers must adapt traditionally-held beliefs about web design and embrace the new mobile era, or go the way of the dinosaurs. Here’s how:

1) Streamlined layout:

Limited display size and speed of use both dictate that mobile web designs are simply laid-out, without any of the peripheral clutter of a desktop website. Designers should make sure that everything presented on a mobile phone screen should be accessible, usable, and readable.

2) Simplified navigation:

Simple, stripped-down navigation should be prominent and central on a mobile phone.  Top-level navigation can be condensed to four or fewer items on most mobile phones.  Everything must have a clear purpose and function and every option must encourage the user to take action.

3) Shrink-wrapped content:

Content is still king, even on mobile devices, but it must be a hard-working scalable copy with a clear purpose, a strong call to action and absolutely no “fluff”.

A mobile phone design cuts out the peripheral non-essentials but must keep and enhance functionality (buttons, logos, boxes, etc.) in order to offer a meaningful mobile web experience.

Questioning everything is the only way to strip a website down to its essential elements, which is what needs to happen on a good mobile phone website

4) Design-lite:

With the limited rendering capabilities of mobile phones, designers should incorporate:

1. Lightweight graphics for quick response to user requests

2. Touch-screen friendly actionable copy (links) that don’t need expanding

3. Well spaced links to allow for ease of use

4. Logos which always appear at the top

5) Gimmick-free:

Splash screens, meaningless animations and fixed-width layouts are out of place on a mobile phone.  Everything should be relevant and completely useful:

1. Is the content critical, and does it serve the core purpose of the website?

2. Is the website easy to use and understand?

3. Does it contain the same the core functionality as the main website?

4. Is the navigation unconventional?

5, If so, is it critical to the function of the website?

Web designers should bring value to a mobile phone website.  Does every feature help increase profit? Can the design be changed to improve business? The task is to make it easy to browse, shop, book, reserve or contact the client online, whether the customer is at their desk or on the move.

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