The Five Rules of Mobile Web Design

Oct 21, 2011 insic 3 Comments

More and more people are accessing the web through mobile devices. It won’t be long before even basic cell phone plans come with smartphones powered for instant Internet access. These expectations aren’t just the hopeful marketing ploys of major mobile service providers. It’s projected that by 2015 the rate of people who access the Internet through mobile means will explode by 400%. This is indicative of an inner-industry belief that mobile computing will soon become the dominant form of connectivity for the majority of the world’s Internet users. If you’re a smart website owner and/or blogger, you’re taking mobile computing very seriously. The following are five rules to remember regarding mobile web design when targeting the mobile market:

1. CSS is your friend.

Cascading Style Sheets allow website designers using HTML and XHTML to create multiple clones of their site adjusted for multiple visitor-end capabilities. This means you can have a website that is optimized for desktop browsing, sophisticated mobile computing, or basic cell phone website access. To cover all the bases in a basic way, CSS is incredibly useful. But if you think that all you have to do is create a Bizarro version of your preexisting website, think again.

2. Clickables must be front and center.

The basic design of your website is essential in determining whether or not you’re going to pick up a decent amount of mobile traffic. Sidebar sectionals packed with links are going to get no play with users that access your site through browsers that automatically centralize their point of reference during loading. The important stuff you want users to click should always be found in the middle. This is true no matter how your traffic is coming through.

3. Navigation must be simple.

In addition to the centralization of content, the ease in which users can get from one page to the next has to be a top priority. Easy-to-find back and forward buttons are essential in establishing a consistent flow of traffic. These should also be easily found near the center of the page.

4. Forget about Flash.

This is something that every web designer catering to mobile traffic must learn to accept. As of today there are no mobile web browsers that process Flash animation or any other high-intensity graphics. Sites filled with Flash are sure to hit the rock bottom ranks of a mobile Google search. In all honesty, the benefits of Flash in any situation are called into question considering how many alternatives exist.

5. Check your site through every mobile browser.

The only way you’ll know if you have a website that works for those on-the-go is by examining it through the same browsers they’ll be using. Whether it’s Safari, Skyfire, Firefox Mobile, Android, Explorer or Opera, round up as many friends and family members as it takes to see how your site looks on all possible browsers. Otherwise, those using a certain browser might be unable to access your site for months until you’re notified, which is bad news for your mobile SEO.

The future of web browsing will be mobile in nature. Will your website be ready or will it be weakened by a lack of poor planning? It will depend on how well you are at following the rules.

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  • Matthew

    Interesting article, with some important considerations for anyone looking to design an app.

  • Mike

    Currently in all projects that I am involved we use mainly HTML5 based web design for mobile sites. The reason for that is smooth graphics, customization and capability of any mobile device.
    Thanks for the great tips related navigation and clickables will keep them in mind for future projects.

  • Paul Eline

    I’ve designed almost 13 Mobile websites and I always trying to get new techniques to improve my skills, so also got some new points from here. Special thanks from me.