designing for screen

Designing for Mobile

Everyone has had the experience of loading a website on a mobile phone that is meant for a desktop computer or for it to load slowly or not at all. It’s frustrating and highly annoying. The chances are that you will give up and think “I’ll look later”, which if you’re like me you hardly ever do, you need information when you need it, not hours later.

With mobile and tablet browsing predicted to take over desktop during 2014 it’s important that brands move with the consumer behaviour. But why is it so vital to get right?

‘The control which designers know in the print medium, and often desire in the web medium, is simply a function of the limitation of the printed page. We should embrace the fact that the web doesn’t have the same constraints, and design for this flexibility. But first, we must ‘accept the ebb and flow of things.’

John Allsopp, “A Dao of Web Design

Towards the end of 2013 a comScore survey showed that ‘49,500,000 people in the UK alone have a smartphone’ that is around ‘64% of the population’. This is 64% of people you want to be looking at your website and potentially buying your product. It’s therefore important you get the customer experience right to retain existing customers and persuade new customers to use your site over non mobile friendly competitor sites.

To understand more about mobile website design these facts outline the key things customers look for:

• 78% want to be able to find what they’re looking for on a site within one or two clicks

• 76% want mobile pages to fit their screen better

• 64% only want to have to scroll up and down without the need to also scroll left and right

• 78% want an easy to use search bar

These results aren’t surprising so why aren’t companies doing a better job at implementing mobile browsing?  I believe most business don’t understand the fast pace in which the change is occurring don’t see it as a priority. However, with mobile and tablet browsing increasing at a rapid rate it’s important businesses ‘embrace the new form of web browsing.’

A past solution was to have a completely separate mobile site which loaded when it detected the user was browsing using their mobile phone. This was not only costly from the designing side but development too. Keeping two sites up to date with information and SEO strategy is a time consuming process. This put off a lot of companies adapting their websites.

Google states that “making a website that is friendly to smartphone users has now become a critical part of website management”.

Another key part of getting better traffic to your site is to use SEO to get search engines results to get yours at the top, with google being so much in favour of mobile sites. They favour sites that are mobile optimized so even if your customers aren’t accessing from mobile are more likely to find you.

So what is responsive web design?

Responsive design is designing and coding with ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of panning and scrolling either on a mobile or desktop. A responsive site should seamlessly detect what device you are using and arranges accordingly be it to a mobile, tablet or desktop.

To give you an idea, if you’re on mobile or tablet reading this you will notice it is all layered out on one column to make the copy of the blog clear to read. If you’re on a desktop just drag the screen smaller and you will notice it all neatly folds down. This makes the most important parts appear first, making it easier to navigate and browse through.

Making emails responsive.

Since having my iPhone and the smart phone I had before I barely check emails on desktop. I catch up on my emails on the sofa in the evenings,  just after waking up in the morning or on the way to work on my commute. I know I’m not alone with this. According to Email compass in 2013 ‘61% of consumers now read at least some of their emails on a mobile device ‘ and in fact ‘4 in 5 smartphone owners use their phone within 15 minutes of waking up’  so the importance of adapting to have mobile responsive emails is essential when talking to your audience, no matter the size of a company.

If you spend money optimising your website to all platforms and don’t go the extra mile to make emails responsive to mobile too, you run the risk of emails you send out not having a high click through rate. This is because they load slowly or too much scrolling is necessary to read it. The chance to gain potential customers to your site are missed as they don’t bother to read or click on anything and simply add it to their trash box. They won’t be visiting you online or in real time in the near future…

According to the annual survey by ExactTarget ‘42% of marketing professionals said they rarely or never use responsive designs in emails’. This is a huge amount of people that aren’t getting a good experience with the brands they follow. 24% of companies surveyed said 50% of their email marketing is read on mobile devices.

With the future being an even more ‘on the go’ environment, digital design has developed rapidly, designing for digital is so much more than just a simple website, it has a to be a complete experience that not only looks nice but works brilliantly and seamlessly between devices.

Let me know your thoughts on the best and most frustrating mobile sites? How much do you use your phone or tablet to browse online compared to desktop?