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Understanding Mobile Web Design

Gone are the days when the World Wide Web is only accessible to desktop and laptops. Thanks to the invention of smartphones and tablets. Now, everyone can access the Internet using a portable platform. Therefore, even without laptops or desktop PCs, users can go to different websites, check emails, and update SNS profiles through browser-ready, mobile devices. This innovation in technology gave users the power of ‘mobility.’

However, browsing on smart phones and tablet computers can be difficult at times due to some reasons like the screen size and loading time. Therefore, web design and development communities must adjust to this change. And in order to cope with the latest web browsing trend, a different version of websites was developed for portable gadgets.

The Rise of Mobile Websites

Since 2007, the numbers of users, who are browsing the World Wide Web using mobile phones, are incredibly increasing (source: Wikipedia). Thus, a growing need for a separate mobile website becomes very evident. And to answer the demand for a better mobile browsing experience, companies start to build a website that is specially designed and developed for portable platforms.

However, designing and developing a mobile website is not as easy as it seems. Usability and availability must be achieved so that a mobile website may serve its purpose. Hence, mobile web design must be put in practice.

What is a Mobile Web Design?

In a nutshell, mobile web design is “the art of communication within an environment of mobility” (Cameron Moll). Simplifying website’s design and content is the main objective of mobile web design. Moreover, it also aims to provide a hassle-free navigation by making everything custom-fit to a smaller screen.

Mobile Web Design Basic Principles

  1. Simple- In mobile websites, the phrase “less is more” must be applied. Web browsing through mobile is time consuming and tedious sometimes. Thus, user-friendly navigation and search functions must be provided for easier mobile web access. Also, avoid putting too much graphics and flash videos specially, if they are not really necessary because they can cause downtime in the webpage. In mobile websites, loading time is very important.
  2. Concise Content- Since screens for mobile devices are smaller compare to desktops; site content must be simple and easy to read, and if it’s possible, content must be comprehensible. Only the important information that mobile users need to see must be put on the top page. But don’t forget to include site features and content which you think valuable to you and your visitors.
  3. Speed- Mobile web visitors are only using Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. Their connection speed, as compare to LAN connection at home and offices, is slower. Thus, when you design a mobile website, avoid using background images that can make the loading time slower than the usual speed. A fast-loading mobile web can also keep your potential clients from closing it.
  4. Page column- Mobile devices have smaller screens. Thus, it is more difficult to view web pages on mobile devices than the desktop screens. To increase the usability of your mobile website, it is better that you create a single-column page that uses the whole width of the screen. Also, pages should expand downwards rather than across because scrolling the web page vertically is easier than scrolling it horizontally.
  5. Screen sizes- Mobile devices vary in sizes, thus the layout must be adjustable to different screen sizes as well as type of mobile device. Design a mobile website that has a fluid layout so that it will adjust on the user’s screen resolution.

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