Designing and building a good mobile site is everything but self evident. Few things are as frustrating as a poorly build mobile site where it is hard to find what you are looking for - in the worst case, the information you are looking for does not even exist. On English sites you often see the phrase "See full version" which already in itself reveals the fact that the mobile version is a stripped-down version of the site for desktops.
The challenge with mobile sites is finding the right balance between usability and rich content: Everything has to be found easily and quickly, without having to sacrifice content. In this article, we will give you a few well tried tips and practices for designing a successful mobile site.
1. Make navigation smooth
- On a good mobile site, menus are short and clear. If there are several sites in the menu, +/- signs can be used for expanding and minimizing. In an online store it is possible to categorize products, which shortens the menu and makes it easier to navigate. However, be careful in categorizing, we do not want the visitor to get frustrated because of misleading category paths.
- When designing mobile site navigation, make sure that returning to front page is easy. Often product or company logo on the top of the site works well for this purpose.
- It is wise to place Call-to-Actions (CTA) in a location where they certainly will be seen. The primary CTA is often placed in the most visible location on the site, usually in the middle, whereas secodary CTA buttons can be placed elsewhere, e.g. under the primary CTA.
- It is essential for navigation clarity that the content is well concepted before building the navigation. If the content design phase is compromised, it will most likely reflect in the end result.
2. Invest in content relevancy
Every mobile site should be linked with analytics, which allows monitoring of visitor behaviour on the site and content-internal links. Active monitoring and understanding of what the visitors are looking for help to emphasize the right things in content management. What is important for the mobile user and can it be found easily? Do not let offers and campaigns steal all the attention on the site, remember to concentrate also on basic searches and make sure that the mobile user understands what you are offering.
3. Build amazing search functions
On a mobile site, it is extremely important that the visitors quickly and easily find what they are looking for. Therefore, it is wise to place search functions in a visible location.
- The search can include filters, with the help of which it is easier to find the desired information. Online stores with wide selection often make use of filters. When using filters, make sure that they always give a result and that the content and search work in harmony.
- Predictive search allows the search to suggest continuation to the search words written by the visitor. For mobile user, this saves time since it eliminates the need of having to write everything as a whole. Remember that when the search words are inserted manually, it is wise to take possible typos into account.
4. Design functioning forms
Filling in forms may be one of the most frustrating things on the site if the forms are not built for mobile use.
- Keep the number of fields as low as possible. Ask only for the absolute necessary information so that filling in the form does not take too long.
- Speed up filling in the fields. You can e.g. make the cursor automatically jump to the next field when the previous has been properly filled in.
- Test that the choice boxes are easy to tick using a touch screen device.
- If possible, make use of automatic form filling e.g. for registered users.
5. Invest in usability
- Design the site so that the visitor does not need to zoom in on your site.
- Make sure that all sections of your site are mobile-friendly.
- Go through site analytics to make sure that nothing essential is missing. If the mobile site is well built, it is not necessary to ask the visitors whether they want to move to the mobile site. On the contrary, it goes without saying that mobile users rather browse a mobile friendly site optimized to their device.
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