Designing web content for mobile browsers on hand-held devices like smartphones requires some different elements of web design compared to sites intended to be viewed on a full computer screen.
Taking into consideration the limitations of mobile browsing, particularly with the announcement by Adobe in November last year that they weren’t anymore going to support flash websites for mobiles, it’s important to take into account the specific requirements of website design for mobile users.
The following tips will help you create a website that’s user-friendly and easily viewable on mobile devices.
Reduce the content amount
A mobile device screen doesn’t have the room to display the amount of information a regular computer screen can handle, and a user probably doesn’t want to scroll endlessly to get through the content. The mobile site should include the most important information, in summary form rather than the full text of your standard website.
Use a single-column layout
The screen is already small enough, without further squeezing text into multiple columns. Mobile users will have an easier time viewing when they can simply view a single column of text.
Set up different navigation
Consider how the website is viewed in the context of mobile website design, and present navigation buttons at the bottom so it can be easily accessed without interfering with reading the site.
Offer different designs for touchscreen and non-touchscreen devices
When viewing a website on a touchscreen mobile device it can be difficult to click on small links, especially if the links are placed too close together. For touchscreen mobile website design, use boxes or an easy-to-tap graphic rather than hyperlinked text.
Take advantage of mobile device functions
Actions like starting a phone call or viewing an address on a map are functions the smartphone itself can provide, so design your mobile website to take advantage of that fact.
Think about visibility
Smartphone users may be looking at your mobile website in low light or glaring sunlight, so set up your site with plenty of contrast between text and background, with text that can be read without zooming. Also keep in mind that many mobile devices don’t support Flash, so avoid using Flash content for a mobile website.
Make it easy to find you
Mobile device users are often looking for contact information or driving directions, so keep your address (with map functionality) and phone number on the home page or an easy-to-reach secondary level.
Creating a site for a mobile browser involves more than simply cramming the original site onto a small screen, so take care with your mobile website design to make your site user-friendly.
Photo by Ed Yourdon