The mobile market is no longer just one thing for one device. Web designers today have to think about a multi-platform, multi-device environment. However, one thing's for sure. Whether you're talking about mobile apps and platforms or the mobile web, mobile has to be at the center of design interactions. Get it right for mobile and all users benefit from speed and flexibility.
Mobile Web Design Considerations
In terms of the mobile web, Google's design guidelines are clear. Current best practice for mobile web design includes creating a website on a single URL which creates a consistent user experience and is easy for the search engine bots to crawl. Not only is this good for users, but it's good for SEO, too. Google also recommends using the same core code for your website rather than differentiating the code according to the platform. Instead, any differentiation can be handled by the use of CSS media queries.
Other design considerations include using typography to ensure content is easily viewable even on a small screen, using flat design to suit touchscreen devices, using panels of color for quick load times and optimizing scrolling and gestures for maximum usability and access to content. Speed and accessibility are key mobile touch points. Furthermore, web designers should know that today's mobile users won't be happy with a reduced functionality version of a desktop website. Instead, they expect to be able to enjoy the same functionality across devices.
Mobile Apps and Platforms
One design consideration is whether businesses need mobile apps and how these should be created. This means considering the iOs vs Android debate and thinking about how to get a consistent interface across widely varying operating systems. Pingdom suggests that from the user perspective platform differences may not be crucial. Instead, companies should use developer guidelines as a guide rather than gospel and focus on the elements needed to reinforce branding. Any innovation should focus on meeting users' expectations.
Another option is to create hybrid mobile apps
, which combine an HTML5 web based core with a mobile application overlay. That means users on different platforms can have the same mobile experience while navigating the apps in a familiar, device-specific way. Check out our article on determining whether your business needs a mobile app
to get started. Alternatively designers can create a device agnostic design which works well everywhere.
Still on the issue of platforms, Fast Company Labs outlines some questions to consider when moving your app from one platform to another. It suggests starting with identifying goals then thinking about home screen customization, navigation elements, handling notifications and backwards compatibility. The full article is worth a read.
Whichever option you choose, how you handle content is another major design issue. In a multi-channel world, it's essential to make the same content serve many masters, working equally well for apps, mobile websites, desktop websites and social media. That's where the tagging and content organization built into content management systems
can help designers complete the final piece of the puzzle.