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Best practices for mobile friendly website design

iphone screen display
(Image credit: Image Credit: Rob Eradus / Pexels)

In an age of widely-available mobile internet, handheld devices have taken over every aspect of our lives. Customers don’t just use phones for communication or social networking, but for optimizing their lives, meaning that there's an opportunity when it comes to creating mobile friendly websites with the best website builders.

Whether looking for the nearest restaurant or finding their way to a new destination, over 90% of the population utilize their smartphone for all their needs. This is great for business owners, as with so many people glued to screens for so much of the time, it's now extremely convenient to connect to them, and broaden your business's reach.

Business owners should be celebrating the era of the smartphone, because it means you can advertise more than before, at any time of the day, and gain custom with no extra effort. However, does your digital marketing strategy focus on mobile friendly website design: and, more importantly, can you be reached by the market you're working in as easily as you should be?

We outline the most mobile friendly website design best practices your website should meet to succeed, and the mobile web strategy pointers you should follow.

The importance of mobile friendly website design

woman on phone

Mobile friendly website design will help attract new customers and retain existing ones (Image credit: Pexels)

In order to retain visitors and attract new ones, you need to have a mobile friendly website design. The most important tactic to widen the reach of your business is to be available to people on their favourite gadgets: mobile phones and tablets. Here’s why:

  • Every third smartphone user today turns to mobile search as an immediate answer to their query
  • 69% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from and recommend brands that are mobile-friendly
  • Customers today have extremely high expectations when it comes to speed: 47% of the online population is not ready to wait longer than three seconds for a website to load!

It is the ease of access that matters, and if you are not convenient to browse on a phone or tablet, potential customers won’t bother to check if your site loads beautifully on a computer screen. So, how can you ensure that your website is mobile-friendly?

1. Know that “responsive” is not enough

There is a difference between a mobile-optimised responsive website and a mobile-first website. The former refers to a website that automatically resizes to a fit a mobile screen. That doesn’t mean it is optimised for the mobile screen. You would, generally, need to zoom in to read the text and see the pictures clearly. Basically, everything is shrunk to fit into the tiny screen. Definitely not a good sign.

On the other hand, a mobile-first website is exclusively built for smaller screens. These sites are designed to be consumed on a mobile phone or tablet before they can be viewed on a desktop. These are better in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. 

Everything fits on the screen perfectly and has a clear destination. Navigation is simpler, information is crisp and to-the-point and all the functions are simplified. That is what you need to aim for.

2. Keep forms as short as possible

woman on tablet

Don't overload visitors with information, and keep forms short (Image credit: Image Credit: Picjumbo / Pexels)

For most websites, however mobile web design friendly, forms turn out to be the Achilles heel. You need to remember that the moment you start asking for too much information, it will put off your visitors. The key here is to keep your forms as short as possible.

Having said that, there are a few points that you could use as a checklist when designing the forms for your site:

  • Streamline the information entry: Only ask for extremely relevant details.
  • Minimise form errors.
  • If you need to include dates, a visual calendar feature can be very helpful.
  • Opt for the simplest input methods for every field in the form.
  • As far as possible, stick to a single browser window instead of redirecting the user to a new page unnecessarily.

3. Pay attention to typography

If you think large blocks of text will help get the attention of the visitor, you couldn’t be more wrong. Large text can have the counter effect. It is overwhelming and difficult to grasp in one go. Always keep the following in mind:

  • The visitor should be able to comprehend your message without much difficulty
  • The point of focus should be clear: this is specifically important when using differently sized fonts within a page
  • Decide and stick to the visual hierarchy even when choosing and using fonts

In addition to font size, the type of font matters. Fonts should be clear, crisp, and as simple as possible. There is a reason why classics are called classics. The user shouldn’t have to spend painful amounts of time trying to decipher a particular typography. Remember that you have a small space to work with: the mobile screen. So the use of font needs to adhere to certain visual design principles, and be accessible.

4. Get a competitive edge with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

man on laptop

Desktop or laptop pages load quickly, but AMP pages are specifically designed to make mobile pages load just as fast (Image credit: Image Credit: Bruce Mars / Pixelbay)

AMPs are HTML pages that follow a specific format. The biggest advantage of these  is that they are given the priority in mobile search results. Why? AMPs are extremely fast for mobile users, and that is exactly what we all are aiming for. That brings us to the next point in the list of mobile friendly website design best practices: speed.

5. Aim for the lowest-possible loading times

As hinted more than once before, your mobile website will be abandoned if it takes longer than three seconds to load! You just cannot afford to go heavy here. And the best way to achieve that is by simplifying your design as much as possible. 

The fewer the number of elements on your site, the higher its speed will be. Unnecessary images and flashing lights are not a good idea when you are trying to build a mobile-friendly website. Simple sites that load quickly also have higher conversion rates.

6. Display your calls-to-action (CTAs) clearly

people sat working on laptop

Mobile web design needs to have a good balance between information and clarity (Image credit: Unsplash)

An effective mobile website design needs to have an absolutely obvious set of CTAs. At the same time, you cannot overwhelm the user by incorporating too many on a small screen. Like always, balance is key.

It is also important to know that about 53% of websites have CTA buttons that cannot be spotted by users within three seconds. And that is bad. If you focus on this area, you can again have a competitive edge. The CTAs should be easy to spot within a second or two.

7. Pop-ups are pesky little killers of UX

It is a fact that nobody likes pop-ups. They are irritating pests that disrupt user experience to a great extent. Many users may even close the window and abandon your site when they see a pop-up. So, make sure that you rid your website of these unnecessary hindrances.

Summary

There are very simple aspects that often get overlooked when creating amazing products. Incorporating these practices in your mobile website design can help avoid that. The idea is to avoid a decrease in conversion rates on non-desktop devices and keep up with the popularity of mobile internet around the world. 

Not optimising your content for mobile devices or taking this area of your business lightly can cause a major loss in traffic and, of course, conversions. Adhering to simple design principles, logic and practicality are the keys here.

Shaun is the director of Virtual Employee Private Limited, a remote staffing & tech MNC, and is responsible for leading a team of more than 1200 experts from domains like IT, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, Designing. A law graduate from Brunel University, Shaun has been instrumental in creating a business model which is increasingly being seen by industry peers as a model for new organizations in the tech outsourcing domain.