Rethinking the Mobile Experience

Now that mobile is so necessary, companies are switching over to responsive design. That’s great, but is it enough? The first thing to consider is  “what makes a good mobile experience?” Here are my thoughts:

  • Good site performance is essential because although speeds are getting better with 3g/4g mobile devices they are still slow as compared to a cable or dsl connection. If we can keep our site’s overhead down it will help the site load faster on mobile devices.
  • Another important thing important to mobile experience is the content. Are you getting the right content, the content you need right at that moment, on your mobile device?
    • While people visiting a site on a desktop computer might be willing to read longer explanation, when on a mobile device they want to cut to the chase.  Look at popular apps like Twitter and Instagram.  Both have less text and that is broken into smaller, more digestible bites.
    • Content is especially important for retail and eCommerce clients.  For example, If you are searching for a restaurant on your phone the only things you really want is the menu, the contact info, and maybe a coupon or a couple of pictures, –we don’t really want to go through the company’s history or want to sift through a large gallery of photos.
  • Navigation is one of the most important elements. The buttons have to be larger so that they can be more easily “touched” using a finger or stylus. Like the content it would be important to have just the most important things in a mobile menu. A good mobile menu will take you to the content you are looking for in the fewest steps.
  • Search is another key feature in the mobile experience. If the search bar is easily accessible sometimes it is easier to search for what we need then it is to navigate to it. What if there was a search form that allowed the client to check off check boxes and display the content that they are looking for? This would help the client find the actual content they are looking for much easier then going through a navigation menu.
  • What about galleries and slideshows and videos?  It is important to not have them auto-play on mobile, and by default, video is not allowed to auto-play on mobile to save bandwidth.  Slides should be kept to a minimum on mobile, 2-3 per page. With a way to easily “thumb” through them using touch technology.

Mobile is the new frontier, but in some ways it is bringing web design back to 2000.  Remember when file size was important because of bandwith issues?  We used smaller, compressed images. Web pages had to be designed to fit within 600 pixels!  Well, at least now we can use more colors! hahaha.

Mobile is not going anywhere so we really need to look at our mobile interfaces and design for not only for the screen width but also the user experience. The easier it is to use a website on a mobile device and get the right information they are looking for, the easier it is for customers to buy from you.