Mobile Web Design: Sometimes The Obvious Is Not What’s Best

The mobile web traffic has been growing by leaps and bounds. Browsing on mobile devices was close to 15% in December 2012. (The percentage of mobile Internet use.)

We have to embrace this trend by making sure that the website design and web development we do for our clients is done with mobile browsing in mind. Web developers and website designers should know about challenges presented by viewing Internet pages content on mobile devices. 

Screen Size

The smaller size of the display is only one of them, but it is important. Handheld devices come in many screen sizes and resolutions. They may also have different proportions. For example, the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S3 has a resolution of 1,280 by 720, at 306 ppi (pixel per inch). IPhone 5 on the other hand is 1,136 by 640 at 326 ppi.

To combat the size differences between the desktops and mobiles, there are few solutions to keep in mind:

  • Leave the design same for both; users have to zoom in to view the content
  • Use HTML 5 to display the content in larger blocks; in this case the website looks slightly different in comparison the desktop view of the same site
  • Create apps for mobiles
  • Use responsive design (see iPhone layout)

Generally, depending on the subject, I believe that the responsive design is the most flexible and most convenient way to view a web page on a small hand held device.

User Behaviour Differences

We often use our hand held devices in a rush, needing the information we are looking for quickly. Zooming in and out is not often the best way to go. The text should be large and the navigation clear. Generally we don’t mind scrolling to find the information. The responsive design approach to a website design is the way to go. It will rearrange the elements on the page for fast viewing, while keeping the branding and the “look and feel” the same as on a desktop platform.

Design Trends For Mobile Internet Browsing

Between Apple products and Google’s Android system, the trend is rising to even more use of mobiles for Internet browsing on the go. Still, in most cases a well designed website will be a better choice then an app. Here are some trends and best practices for mobile Internet:

• Think mobile first

• Responsive design with focus on usability

• More functional images (icons)

• Simplify, simplify and simplify

• Keep in mind loading speeds

• Interaction: more intuitive and faster

• Usability: Streamline the navigation

We are more likely to reach for our phone or a tablet to check a price or an address on the net. Keeping the end-user on mind while creating a mobile-friendly site is even more paramount in comparison to a desktop monitor web viewing. Consumers want to access online information in a format that works well on their mobiles and they don’t always want to use an app.