5 Issues to Consider When Designing Your Website for Mobile

March 2, 2021

Having a mobile interface for your website is no longer optional; it’s essential. Pick any recent telecoms research and it will show the huge growth in the use of mobile devices worldwide. A study by the International Telecommunication Union shows a 78.8% mobile penetration rate in developing countries with a rate of 86.7% worldwide. In some countries, a cell phone is not just a phone, but a mini-computer and the only way to access the web, so it’s important to think about those users’ experience when setting up your website. As a recent convert to mobile browsing, here are some of the issues I’ve faced when browsing on my phone.

It’s essential to have some kind of mobile interface for your site, otherwise visitors have no choice but to browse the full site. This can be a problem for people watching their data usage (depending on your cell phone plan this can be expensive) or with a feature phone with a slow connection speed. If your site has lots of images and scripts (more on this later), then you could be driving users away and what’s the point of that? If your site is running WordPress, an easy fix is to use a mobile interface plugin which will either add a mobile site link or will automatically detect when users are browsing from a mobile device.

Even if there’s a mobile version of the site, it often cuts out some features of the main site. Some users with high-end tablets might prefer to browse the full site. Even if there’s a mobile interface, it should include a link to the main site. As a user, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck in a loop where you can never get access to the functions you need.

Ideally, you want visitors to have a good experience of your site whether they are using a 2 inch phone screen or a 10 inch tablet. That means you need a responsive site design. What does this mean? It’s a theme that resizes and shifts content automatically to account for the viewing screen size. That might mean that sidebar content shifts to the bottom, for example, leaving the main text on view. WordPress offers a wide selection of responsive themes, but be warned; it’s also important to implement responsive design properly otherwise mobile users may still have a poor experience. Check out some common responsive design problems to see what issues you should avoid.

If visitors to your site are used to the main site, then they expect the mobile version to work just as well. Just because it’s mobile doesn’t mean that there should be less functionality and visitors don’t necessarily want to browse long thin pages on every mobile device.

That means giving some thought to navigation. Most mobile interfaces collapse menus so readers can see them more easily – the question is, how easy is it to get to the information you want? Can your customers buy a product with a couple of clicks or does it take longer? If you have a mobile first design (and here’s some more on mobile first), then all site visitors should have a good experience.

There are two more aspects of the user experience to consider. First, is it easy for users to navigate the mobile site with a couple of swipes of the finger? And are page elements well spaced so that people don’t make mistakes with navigation? Second, if you are capturing customer data, do you have an abbreviated version of your input form for mobile use? It can be a pain to fill out too many fields on a phone with a small screen.

Page load speed is a marker of site quality and it’s even more important for mobile users. No smartphone user wants to spend money on data because the site loads slowly; instead that person will go to another quicker site. There are lots of ways to speed up your site from using HTML5 and CSS3 to keeping image sizes small. Check out this article on common mobile web design mistakes for more ideas.

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