6 essential things to consider when optimizing for mobile

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Having an attractive, easy-to-use mobile design for your website is crucial to bringing in and retaining visitors. A complicated page or a design that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to will send people running from your site. Even considering all the different mobile devices available nowadays, you can design a simple mobile site that always looks good.

Streamline Navigation

Don’t make your mobile site a labyrinth of links. Users on mobile devices aren’t going to want to have to hit the back button a thousand times or open up multiple tabs in their phone browsers, so keep the number of things to tap or click on at the absolute minimum. Visit other sites that pare down a lot of information into a few easy links, such as eBay. Notice that search bars are usually at the very top of the page to make finding things as easy as possible.

Limit Your Images

Graphic heavy websites are great on big screens, but they don’t do so well translated to mobile. Reserve your image use to your logo and a few simplified images placed carefully to aid in navigation. Resist the temptation to add superfluous backgrounds or huge headers laden with pictures. These will distract from the text and will complicate the user experience of navigating your mobile site. Phones that run iOS will display the graphics beautifully, but there are so many other smartphones on other platforms. They also will make the site slower to load on phones with low data speeds.

Don’t Design for one Device

Many people make the mistake of ensuring their designs look good on iPhones and Androids, and don’t worry about how it displays on other phones and devices. But not every visitor will be using an iPhone or Android, and you want the site to look nice on their screens, too. So rather than focusing your design revisions on getting the site to look good on an iPhone screen and then tweaking it for the Android, try to take into account as many phones as possible and create a simple iteration that’s likely to display well no matter the device used.

Link to the Full Site

Some mobile users know exactly what they’re looking for, and know how to find it on the full site. You also may have users visiting from iPads or Kindles, devices that sometimes default to the mobile version even though they can nicely display the full site. Rather than limiting options, put multiple links to the full site on your mobile site. A good location for this link is to consistently have it at the bottom of every mobile page, so visitors don’t have to navigate around trying to find it. You don’t want to lose customers because they’re frustrated at being forced to use the mobile version when they want the full internet.

Listen to User Opinions

Give your users a place to provide feedback, and listen to it. You may know what you intended when you were designing the site, but users are likely to find glitches you didn’t anticipate. The best way to know how your mobile site is working is to listen to user problems. You’ll learn about issues that crop up on certain mobile devices. Users will also tell you which pages they’re looking for the most often, and what they’d like to see that may not be easily accessible from your home menu.

Simplify Content

Avoid the temptation to put a lot of text on the mobile home page. The mobile version of your site does not need to contain every single piece of information your website has. Pare it down to the essential functions and information of your site. If your purpose is retail, make viewing products, logging in, and purchasing easy and obvious, and leave the frills and extra information for the full site.

Remember that simplicity is key with mobile sites. The easier they are to use, the better. So listen to your website visitors, streamline your design and content, and enjoy increased traffic flow.

How do you optimize sites for mobile? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

header image courtesy of Eddie Lobanovskiy

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.