Many consumers and business professionals alike are using their smartphones more than desktops to connect with others, shop, consume entertainment, do business and more. For this reason, companies need to optimize their websites for mobile rather than simply shrinking their desktop design for a smaller screen.
To implement a mobile-first experience, tech professionals will need to create websites that go beyond just having a responsive design. Members of Forbes Technology Council weigh in on the most important factors that go into designing a mobile-optimized website.
1. Overall User Experience
Many developers and businesses still do not put enough effort into understanding the overall user experience. Up to 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Therefore, the most important factor is having the right person (or people) for the job. The design and development of any website should start with a breakdown of what a user will experience on hand-held and wearable devices. – Ondrej Krehel, LIFARS LLC
2. Website Design
There are three key design principles relevant to mobile design: 1) Start with the experience (with the customer) and work backward from the UX. 2) Design semantically (i.e. based on the meaning of fields and forms). 2) Design mobile-first instead of retrofitting big-screen designs. In this sense, it is less about a “mobile-optimized” website and more about a mobile-first approach. – Carlos Pignataro, Cisco Systems, Inc.
3. Layout Of Pages
A person should not have to zoom into various parts of the page to navigate the mobile site. The content should fit the screen and be easy to read. There should be a limited number of action buttons and, ideally, only have one or two. – Abhinai Srivastava, Mashgin, Inc.
4. Form Of The Information
Designing your mobile site for the right form factor is very important. Recognize that mobile devices are scroll machines and need to have single columns and have information that can be operated with thumbs. Use the proper conventions for the device, such as iOS and Android. – Michael Adler, N-able
5. Features Supported By The Browser
It’s crucial to check if the desired browser feature is supported before using it and, if not, offer an alternative. For example, you should check if the browser supports hover inputs before exclusively relying on it inside the menu. But once checked, developers can enrich their websites with features that use location and motion sensors or even near-field communication (NFC) to offer a native-like mobile experience. – Gerrit Rindermann, Lambs
6. Unique Mobile Data
It starts with understanding why and where. People want to do different things on mobile, and it’s often while moving or being distracted. When you can craft an experience built on purpose to accomplish those goals, you’ll see a night and day improvement in customer engagement. Often overlooked is leveraging the unique data available on mobile devices, including location, health, spatial or contact data. – Jason Cottrell, Myplanet
7. Security And Privacy
One crucial factor that goes into building a mobile-optimized website is trust, ensuring the security and privacy of any customer’s personal data. Because of the alarming rate of data breaches in cyberspace, which negatively affects consumers’ lives and the reputation of tech organizations, users are demanding a better handling of their data across all digital platforms, including mobile websites. – Bob Fabien Zinga, Directly, Inc.
Designing UI/UX is like sweeping for mines: The first mistake you make will be your last. The main objective of optimizing for a smaller screen, regardless of the content, is increased user-friendliness. UX is like electricity or warm water — you don’t notice it until it doesn’t work. These days, it’s our offices and our homes that are handheld, so they’d better be comfortable. – Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut
9. Website Load Speed
Website load speed is very critical. It’s important to optimize your mobile website for faster load time because this will also improve your SEO efforts. The best ways to do this are to disable videos on mobile devices, compress images and keep use of custom fonts to a minimum. Google offers a great free tool to test your mobile website performance. – Adi Ekshtain, Amaryllis Payment Solutions
10. End-User Interaction During Development
Developers need to know what is important to the user and make sure that is front and center in a mobile situation. Frequent end-user interaction is an absolute requirement for mobile application and website development. – Graydon McKee, Independent Contractor
11. Flow Of Movement Through The Site
With the majority of today’s web traffic being mobile in nature, it is imperative that the user experience is optimized for this. The mobile website should facilitate a flow that ensures users don’t get trapped in a modal state where a decision to deviate from a path of typical usage doesn’t result in a situation where a user is taken to state zero. – Rena Christina Tabata, ShareSmart (Think Tank Innovations Ltd.)