How To Tackle Mobile Web Design

by Geoff Roy on August 28, 2013

Mobile Web Design the Right Way, The First Time

Part of our working week is auditing current websites of potential clients, reporting on how it views on different platforms, as well as the business’ entire internet branding and activity. We find a range of websites, from no mobile friendly through to poor implementation of a responsive design. Going mobile isn’t always done the optimal way.

Screen size variations for mobile web design

Various screen sizes and layouts for mobile web design. Image Courtesy of

With the recent growth in mobile web visitors showing no sign of slowing down, getting a website mobile friendly needs time to get right. Before you get stuck into your next mobile internet site design for a new client, think about the following.

Who are you targeting?

Pinpoint who your desired client is, what they’re browsing for when they use the internet, and what their background and preferences are. Although it’s a no-brainer that more people are using mobile devices every single year (mobile and tablet), some companies have more to gain by embracing this type of web visitor.

Give these questions some thought and analysis:

  1. Check your traffic analytics to learn how many visitors are desktop and how many are using a smart phone. Bear in mind that a tablet is counted as a mobile device.
  2. Are you currently seeing different trends per device? For instance, are mobile users more inclined to make use of the contact form? Are tablet users viewing more pages overall?
  3. What are the core needs of people coming to your site? Are there different use cases?

These questions should get you moving in the right direction. Once you know how much traffic (and potential revenue) you are losing from having a lackluster mobile presence, you can decide just how significant it is for you to make a change.

Once it’s been decided to optimize for mobile, I often get the following queries.

1. How expensive is a mobile website?

Based on your site analytics, you know a good chunk of your visitors are mobile. And you’d get more if they liked using your website. So you start researching the best mobile website options. But, hold on. Will your mobile site be built by an alternative agency, using another platform and CMS than your desktop site? Bad idea. Its important to achieve a consistent experience across all devices.

Also, consider that your desktop site and mobile site should both pull from the same database, serve the same content, and should be up-datable from the same CMS. Why spread your traffic to two different domains when you could be building your internet search rankings with a single web experience? Sub-domains, tags and redirects can help to solve this, but having two separate sites is still not desirable. In summary, a separate mobile site should be avoided unless you are completely restrained to follow other options.

2. “I NEED an app!”

We often get a request right from the start for an app, period. But an app might not be the best solution for their needs, or even their budget. Someone in the company, normally high up, has heard that apps are super cool so they’ve just gotta have one. Developing a quality app is expensive, needs constant attention to keep updated, and creates a barrier to use because it requires a download.More often than not, there are other digital options including a mobile presence which have a higher priority and will make a bigger impact. Going mobile nearly always generates better returns than creating an app for a company, although an app may still have long term benefits for a brand and the business behind it.

3. Responsive web design – what’s in it for me?

Responsive website design is a popular trend in the web design world, and for good reason. You build a single website, with one set of code, and that website automatically adapts to fit any screen size. This means your customer will have an enjoyable experience from any mobile device, desktop computer or web-enabled TV. Even Google recommends responsive website design for SEO best practices.

Going mobile the right way is simple. Plan for the future and create one seamless experience for all devices. Dont try to transform your desktop site to mobile, or build a completely separate mobile website. Developing a responsive website to optimize for mobile traffic is the right investment.

Responsive from now on…

Stop thinking mobile web site design and begin thinking responsive. Take mobile and tablet users seriously, because its going to impact your business one way or another. In fact, it probably already has.

By Geoff Roy – Geoff Roy gets excited about web design with Thunderbolt in Surrey, a digital agency focused on delivering knockout website designs for Surrey based clients.

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