Mobile devices are becoming more capable all the time, and their increasing power means they’re even supplanting desktops and laptops for many users. While many of the core elements of strong website development are similar on both mobile and traditional devices, there are a number of additional factors to consider as well. Here are five important things to avoid when building a mobile site.
When thinking through the process of building a website, many people assume users will find the site on a laptop or desktop, and it’s important to avoid falling into this trap. When sketching out the general layout of your website, think about how it will look and navigate on devices with much small screens than even small laptops. WordPress hosting platforms can help you try out different ideas and load them on your mobile devices for early testing. More specific steps are needed, but it helps to ensure that the basic design of the website is conducive to good mobile interactivity.
Desktop-Focused Graphical Elements
It’s possible to create graphical elements that look great on both mobile and traditional devices, but doing so requires a focus from the beginning. Your logo is perhaps the most critical graphical element, and it needs to be readable on small smartphone screens. Check out any text elements in your logo to ensure they read well at small sizes. The converse is true as well; if you use a different logo for visitors using mobile devices, it needs to look great when scaled up on a tablet as some tablets feature screens nearly as large as some laptops. A pixelated or blurry logo stands out on these devices and can leave an unprofessional impression on visitors.
Cumbersome Navigation and Other Interactions
Websites shine due to their interactive capabilities, but it’s important to consider the differences between mobile and desktop interaction. Users on desktops and laptops use cursor-based devices, which provide excellent control and enable high precision. On mobile devices, users generally use their fingers and have to tap on relatively small areas. Furthermore, mobile devices often have screens that aren’t particularly accurate, so it’s easy to tap incorrectly. Ensure that all links on your website are large enough to tap comfortably, and make sure text-based links stand out even when they’re small. Also, avoid Flash elements, which aren’t supported on most mobile devices, and make sure any Flash components have HTML5 backups to ensure your website renders properly.
Desktop browsers typically render websites as they’re loaded, so large websites seem to load at a reasonable rate on these devices. Mobile browsers, on the other hand, often delay displaying websites until most or all of the content loads. Internet users are impatient, and they may simple stop loading a mobile site if it takes more than a few seconds to begin loading. Furthermore, mobile Internet speed varies dramatically, and some users may only have access to speeds that are similar to dial-up Internet connectivity, especially if they’re in remote locations. Graphical elements are important on websites, but make sure your choose them carefully. Furthermore, check to see if your images can be compressed more as doing so means they can load faster. In some cases, it’s better to spread information across several pages instead of placing it all on the same page, but make sure it’s easy to for users to navigate between these pages.
Difficulty Finding Information
While there are many reasons why people and businesses host web pages, most sites have a particular goal; a website for a restaurant, for example, is generally used to provide directions and state when the restaurant is open. Too often, desktop- and laptop-focused websites make this information cumbersome to find on a mobile device. If you own a brick-and- mortar store, make sure your contact information is readily available on the front page, preferably without requiring the user to scroll. If you offer a service, ensure that your phone number or other contact information is easy to find right away. Use text elements for these items so that users don’t have to rely on images that might not be easy to resize. Text elements also make these items interactive on most mobile devices, and Android and other platforms let users tap phone numbers to call them. If you have too much information to keep on one page, make sure it’s easy to navigate to new pages.
The Internet provides wonderful opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but it’s important for those running websites to keep up with the latest trends. Managed solutions are great; WordPress hosting, for example, makes elements easy to tweak and update, and it makes it easy to choose between hosting a different website for mobile devices or using a responsive website. However, websites that use other paradigms can typically work well on mobile devices if the designer spends some time testing with mobile devices on a frequent basis throughout the development process.