Designing for Mobile

Designing for Mobile is About Easy Access

According to Mary Meeker, Internet analyst and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, within the next five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” For business owners looking to launch a new website, it is essential to consider how the site will render on mobile devices. For web designers, the rules have changed … again.

Responsive Design

Thanks to the work of cutting edge web designer Ethan Marcotte, we now have the tools and techniques to effectively design websites for mobile devices. And by effectively I mean not simply displaying a miniature version of the site that you see on a desktop computer. Responsive Design, the term coined by Marcotte, actually detects what type of mobile device is being used and then displays the site optimized for that specific device. Pretty neat!

Like The Old Days Only Different

In the early days of the web, there was no standardization. Websites rendered differently depending on the browser being used. Designers, a temperamental lot to begin with, had nightmares over not being able to control every aspect of the user experience.  That was then. This is now.

It’s About Usability

With all the variables in play like screen resolution, browser vendor and version, installed system fonts, monitor size, color variation and user preference, web designers finally get it. (At least the good ones do). It is not absolutely necessary that websites look exactly the same across all devices. (I know. This is a tough one for designers to swallow).  It’s about usability – making sure users can quickly and easily find the information they are looking for … which brings us back to designing for mobile devices.

A well designed mobile site:

  • is not just a miniature version of a desktop site
    it accounts for the fact that mobile users are close to taking some action and clearly presents the information needed to simplify that action
  • is not accessed by a separate url or web address
    a user going to the site on an iPhone and a user going to the site on a desktop computer both use the same url.
  • will adjust the layout of the site responsively
    When properly coded, the design will “know” what type of device is being used and will respond by displaying the site optimized for that device.

And Now Back To You

Business owners, was your site designed for mobile? What do you see when you view it on an iPhone, Blackberry or Droid? Is it what you thought it would be? If you are still in the planning stages, is mobile part of your thought process? Thanks for your comments on this one.

Photo credit: Yodel Anectodal

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