Mobile website design is essential in a world full of smartphones. There are an estimated 273 million smartphone users in the United States alone. In addition, people are increasingly using their smartphones instead of computers.
A smartphone is always with you, and people use it a lot; almost half of the survey respondents say they’re on their smartphone for 5-6 hours daily. So it’s not surprising that mobile devices drove 54% of the worldwide web traffic in Q4 2021.
A mobile-friendly website is so vital that Google announced as far back in 2015 that it will prioritize it going forward. Here’s the quote from Google:
“We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.”
In other words, a mobile-first web design strategy is essential to your business.
But what’s mobile website design exactly?
As you can see from the Google quote above, mobile website design means a good user experience of your website on smaller smartphone screens. Conversely, anything that makes it hard to use your website on a smartphone is not mobile-friendly. E.g., small texts or buttons is a terrible user experience.
Here are five principles of mobile-friendly website design you can use today.
Write for Scanners
Smartphone users are impatient and have specific goals when surfing your website. They’re usually looking for a particular piece of information or answer.
If they can’t find the information they need fast, they will press the back button. This affects your Google rankings and thus your sales due to lower traffic and engagement.
It’s essential to structure your information in bite-sized chunks separated with clear sub-heads all over your content. Assume that everyone’s a scanner and will not stop to read every word carefully.
Mobile web writing is straight to the point and clear without the fluff. That means the most critical information should be displayed first and not buried somewhere in the middle where nobody reads.
Mobile app navigation also helps users find the information they need, so make sure your navigation stands out. For example, adding a table of content is the best practice for longer content.
A smaller screen means you need a simple layout, so people don’t get lost in your website. As Google stated above, it’s best to avoid horizontal scrolling.
That means a one-column layout is the best layout for smartphones. It’s clean and simple, and you won’t need to scroll horizontally to see all the information.
But a one-column layout makes it hard to find information on your mobile website. Because there’s no sidebar navigation, and the top bar navigation is tucked away in a hamburger menu.
The solution is to have the search function front and center on your top navigation bar with a magnifying glass icon (a universal symbol for the search function on the web). It helps users find the information they need on your website.
In other words, you should make sure that nothing distracts the users from reading the content.
Things like pop-ups, for example, are universally hated. So make sure there are no pop-ups covering up the main content or pushing down the content in favor of a standalone interstitial above the fold.
In other words, make it easier to perform actions on your website, whether that action is reading or requesting more information. For example, instead of a contact us form, which is hard to fill up on a mobile phone, use a chat button instead.
It’s tough to read small text on a smartphone, as having a small text means your visitor will have to “zoom” in to read the text, which gives a bad user experience. These days, most people will just leave your website instead of slogging through the small text and trying to read it.
Google will also demote your ranking on mobile and prioritize other mobile-optimized pages instead. That’s why I recommend 16px or bigger fonts for mobile.
Mobile screens may have gotten bigger, but it does not change the fact that it’s still tiny. And with fat fingers, it’s easy to hit a button that you don’t mean to accidentally.
The solution is to have bigger buttons and plenty of spacing around it. But how big is big enough? Some recommend that you use 44px by 44px for your buttons, especially the Call to action button, which needs to stand out.
Finally, make sure to leave plenty of space between hyperlinks and navigation menus.
Speed Up Your Mobile Website
Mobile users are not tethered to a wifi connection most of the time. No surprise here. That means most mobile users will be surfing at low internet speed.
Website loading speed is so critical that it’s now a Google ranking factor on mobile search.
It’s best to keep your website under 1 MB to keep it loading fast. To see how heavy your website is, use Pingdom, which also does a speed test to see how fast your site’s loading.
Finally, many “mobile optimized” websites hide “desktop” elements and show the mobile-friendly elements on mobile. Unfortunately, the “desktop” elements are still loading in the background, causing a slower loading speed on mobile. A better way would be to disable those hidden elements altogether.
There will be more smartphones than ever before in the hands of ever more people. This trend is not going to stop or reverse anytime soon. So it’s critical to have a mobile-optimized website to compete.
The fundamental principle to keep in mind is to provide the best user experience for someone surfing your website on her smartphone in multiple environments. Therefore, sometimes it pays to use your website once in a while using your smartphone, constantly testing and fixing hard-to-use pages or elements.
If you are looking for a reliable mobile web design service provider, check the Brimar Online Marketing website.