I remember thinking how cool it was to have a phone with a WAP (Web Application Protocol) browser back in the day. Though it wasn’t anything like browsing on my computer at home, I loved the idea of having the web in my pocket whenever I needed it. As smart phones became more affordable and popular, I watched the mobile web evolve from novelty to necessity. Today, the demand for useful, optimized digital information is no longer limited to users at their desk. Our constantly connected world has sparked an advance in mobile web design and technology, with web designers and developers exploring new techniques to create an enhanced user experience on a mobile device. The problem is, many sites fail to design with mobile users in mind. As the amount of on-the-go users climbs, the necessity of optimized mobile sites to maintain brand integrity increases. Creating a great experience for your users, regardless of device, is not as complicated as you may think. Continue reading after the jump for some basic tips on mobile site creation.
Keep it simple, stupid
Mobile devices have more limitations than a standard desktop. Screen sizes are significantly smaller, user’s data may be limited, connections are slower, and your audience is likely to be on the move. In order to address these concerns, we need to keep our designs simple. We don’t want to overload the user with things that are not necessary. Communicate only the most important things and leave the rest for the PC.
An image is worth 1000 words… ish.
Sure, the average 3g network is powerful enough to handle audio and video streaming. However, when designing, don’t assume users will always have good 3g coverage. They may not even have a 3g-capable phone! In the mobile world, text is often preferable to images. Images eat bandwidth, and bandwidth is not always plentiful. It is dependent on the device, network, and availability of data coverage in a user’s given location. The more data a user needs to download, the slower the page load takes. Long load times are likely to turn users off, which can reflect poorly on your brand. So choose content wisely.
Know Your Audience
Mobile users are likely on the move, so it is imperative to prioritize functionality that will be best suited for these users. Mobile sites like target.com, bestbuy.com, and toysrus.com not only allow users to browse products in their stores, but place search and store finding functionality front and center. As shown above, users on the go can quickly and easily find information such as store locations or a product that they may already have in mind.
iPhone Droid NexusOne is better than your Blackberry…
We’ve all heard this before, but not all mobiles are the same. Mobile devices with Internet access are just as diverse as you and I. There are many form factors, text input methods, technologies, capabilities, and screen sizes to consider when building a site optimized for a mobile device. As devices become more advanced, the screens typically become larger and more capable. A successful design factors in differences in screen size and resolution to provide the same experience over different platforms.
Test. Test Some More. Test Again.
Testing is critical to ensuring the design renders correctly across platforms. Though you may not be able to try your interface on every mobile OS out there, test as much as you can, on as many different platforms possible. For developers, there are tools available to assist in this process such as the Web Developer Toolbar.
The mobile phenomenon cannot be ignored. Mobile users want to quickly access useful information packaged in a simple, easy-to-use interface without all the fluff. Providing them with a positive experience is imperative to your brand, regardless of the channel. As we begin seeing new technologies and new platforms emerge in the market, we can expect mobile sites to become much more advanced. If you plan to develop mobile-optimized sites, keep up with the market and do your research. And remember, it’s all about the user.
- brinkmedia posted this