Designing for the Mobile WebSaturday, February 25th, 2012
There are a few guiding principles to mobile design. First, unless the customer is on a Wi-Fi connection, we need to assume that the speed for the website is going to be slower. Thus, we need to give careful attention to file size of images considering bandwidth and internet connection limitations.
Second, the prioritization of content is key. Since users are on the go, they often want utility before they want brand, promotion or marketing messages. The mantra of “give me what I want right now” is crucial on the mobile phone. This means editing a number of navigational choices to determine what is the most necessary. Part of the process of understanding what the customer’s priority is might be reviewing mobile search results for WestJet and seeing if customers are searching for “book a flight mobile”, and investigating what statistics Omniture provides in terms of the most popular clicks for content on the desktop website viewed through the mobile device.
Third, whereas many desktop websites have a lot of white space often due to consumers using larger monitors, mobile websites should be designed with the right amount of white space, but not too much. Design should be achieved using fonts that are readable on the typical 320 x 480 pixel screen. The site shouldn’t be “miniaturized”, but made perfectly relevant to viewing at a level that renders for the human eye on the mobile device.
Fourth, there are many challenges with mobile website development. There is a lack of understanding by both consumers and brands on the channel because the category is moving so rapidly with fast-changing technology and innovation. A variety of screen sizes, multiple device and hardware types (our testing laboratory has over 1000 devices to test on), and multiple browser types confounds the problem.
The key here is to publish the bare minimum that provides the customer what they want. To do that we need to really know your customer and determine their need states through a consumer research event to align your business objectives against the audience’s content and function objectives. Test, test, test and then test during the Quality Assurance process.