Achieving the Perfect Site for Mobile Browsing

More people browse the net on mobiles than desktops. How can you balance speed and usability with an attractive and well-designed site?

Back in 2016, mobile overtook desktop as the most popular platform for web searches. Two years on, smartphones are more ubiquitous than ever. Whether your site is aimed at schoolkids or octogenarians, the chances are that half your visitors or more will be viewing your site on a mobile device. This brings challenges from a web design perspective. Given that we have been living in a “mobile first” world for so long, you might think that every site is mobile optimised by now. Yet almost half of marketers still say their websites are desktop oriented and have not been optimised for mobile platforms. Here, we take a look at some of the key considerations.

1) Simplicity
Nobody wants to be scrolling through numerous menus and sub-menus on their smartphone. The screen gets clogged, the thumb gets confused, and the visitor gets irritated and goes elsewhere. Make sure menus contain a high-level overview – enough to point customers in the right direction but sufficiently broad to keep the list of choices down to no more than five or six.

2) Loading times
Yes, we often have our smartphones hooked up to super-fast WiFi. But it is essential to keep in mind the lowest common denominator, and that is the person browsing over a patchy GPRS signal on a groaning phone. Try it yourself, from a location that doesn’t have a great signal – if the page takes longer than four seconds to load, you will be haemorrhaging visitors.

3) Calls to action
The latest smartphones might look as if they are returning to the 1980s in terms of their brick-like qualities, but the screens are still smaller than a desktop. Calls to action are a critical part of web design for any platform if you want to convert lookers to buyers, and this is especially so on mobile. Make sure they stand out, and ideally, keep them above the fold so they are always visible.

4) Forms
The very phrase “form filling” causes anyone to heave a sigh. Doing so with a pen and paper is no fun, and on your smartphone it can be even more of a bind. If a customer needs to fill out an online form, pare down your demands to what is
absolutely necessary. As well as minimising the number of fields, there is also plenty you can do to make the fields themselves easier to work with. Drop down boxes and calendars reduce the need for users to key in data from scratch.

5) Think thumbs
The most common complaint about sites that are not optimised for mobile is that they are “too fiddly.” Look at the comparative size of an arrow cursor on a desktop compared with a human thumb on a phone screen and you see the problem.
A responsive site will have text that is easy to read and buttons that are easy to click – and all without the need for visitors to zoom in or stretch the page using thumb and forefinger.

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