Welcome to our round-up of the current mobile web development best practices. If you want your website to catch your audience’s attraction then remember a few simple things. Today an audience expects something smart, and which responds to their needs.
First of all the secret to developing a successful mobile website is all about simplicity. Plain black and white, or neutral colours help to focus the reader’s eye on the content, and are more easy to navigate. Equally the page to page navigation should be simple, and your reader should be able to move through the site as quickly as possible.
The most important element of all is a fully responsive design. There is now a well of research which demonstrates that mobile traffic is becoming more important everyday, and is even more popular than browsing at home. You need to make sure that your website is responsive not just for all device types, but also for all browsers.
Finally in keeping up to date with the most interesting best practices for mobile web development we’d like to mention interactive elements. There are plenty of ways to make your website more interactive, include animation, and any type of touch screen feature to your website. If you use images on your site then the pinch technique to zoom in and out is one great type of interactive feature, you can also include animations, and other types of icon.
Ghost icons are another great innovation that’s come from mobile design and moved to all parts of the web. Menus and other features which can be dragged and dropped across the screen are great ways to improve your user’s experience too.
There’s plenty more to know about best practices for mobile web development that we’ll go into elsewhere. The most important thing is to research your specific industry before deciding anything.
One of the most important things to remember if you’re thinking about beginning a mobile web application development project for your website. It’s up to you to work out how to make the most of the application, and if you don’t plan properly then you’ll end up with an ineffective app. Be sure to ask what you can add to your browsing experience by using the mobile web app platform. How can you navigate more easily, and what useful tools can you add by using an app?
Native vs Web
A native app – one that you download and install to your device – is useful in many respects, and inspired the idea for web apps. Native apps can be used without an internet connection, they can access features on your phone like photos, camera, microphone and so on. However if you don’t need to use these features, a mobile web app is probably the best option for your website.
A mobile web app is like a native app cover to your website. This is great since all customers who find your site from a search engine search will immediately come straight to your app, without the need to download anything.
Finally it’s essential that if you’re going to transform your website into a mobile web app then you need it to work perfectly. Again there are plenty of features to worry about, and it will usually be a work in progress for a while, but here are a few key details to consider before making your mobile web app live.
Firstly your app needs to be capable of loading quickly on all devices and all browsers. The best apps should be able to load within a couple of seconds, and if yours takes much longer then your customers might click back and try the next site on the list. One of the biggest issues is with load times is with image size. Be sure to use image optimizers online to help with page loading time.
Importance of mobile web design
By now you should know that around 80% of internet users are accessing the web by their mobile phone, this being the object they carry around at their side almost 24/7. It is absolutely essential that your website is responsively designed or you’re quite literally missing out on over half of your potential customers, and the knock on effect can be even worse.
No standard rate
Naturally there is no standard rate for mobile web design prices, and it is entirely size dependent, but for a small site with up to 10 pages you should get a decent basic package for around $1000 or so. For this time of price you can expect a website designed to be responsive to all types of devices, and browsers, and several or so pages. If you have a larger website you will need to consider some additional features.
There are scores of additional features that you might want to consider as a larger organisation operating online, here are some of the most important and widely used.
If you’re going to be selling online, you’ll need to invest in an E Commerce service. This is also one of the more costly features of a website, although it’s also the best investment you can make for return on investment.
Having a customer blog created for you site is another great way to broaden your horizons, grow your business, and drive in more traffic and trade. By having a blog with your website you’ll also be able to link plenty of useful content to your own website.
You can even include a content management service with your package if you liked. Great content sourced and produced for your website, complete with keyword research for the best seo results.
There are now dozens of great interactive features available for mobile website development, and they’re changing our experience of browsing the web. Many of the developments are inspired by the popularity of mobile browsing, but they’ve crossed over to all areas of the web. Here are a few of our favourites.
Hidden menus and off-canvas flyouts
Hidden menus can now be seen on plenty of websites, when you roll your cursor over the margin the menu appears to allow you to make your selection. As soon as you move the page away from the top though the menu fades or cascades away. Off-canvas fly outs are images of pieces of content which seem to be off to the side of the page, but which slide into view. It works great if you’re showing several colours of the same item for example, or to give a preview of a collection of images.
Another innovation thanks to mobile website development is the popularity of browsing and scrolling horizontally rather than vertically. This makes pages more like slides in a powerpoint presentation, perfect for browsing with your finger, but equally great for desktop browsing. One of the other great things about horizontal browsing is that the top of the page, which is usually where the main navigation menu is, is always in sight.
– Pinch to zoom
Finally we’ve chosen a feature just for your mobile – pinch to zoom. You’ve probably seen it by now on countless websites but it’s a great example of mobile website development at it’s best. Can you even imagine any more simple solution to zooming in and out of images than the pinch?
In summary anything which makes your online experience look and feel more like your native experience when using your phone’s software or native (downloaded and installed) applications.
What are the benefits of developing a mobile web app, and apps more generally? Well the first thing that’s clear is that people love them, and love using them. This means if your business utilises them, your customer might one day love using your app, to read information, or maybe to buy your product or service.
One of the main reasons that people opt for apps over plain mobile websites is their usability. A mobile web page can often look like it’s been converted from a desktop to fit the mobile screen, the menu tags are often really small, and full use is seldom made of the full screen space.
With an app it feels different, everything has been custom designed to work on your device, there is no browser bar or settings along the top of the screen, there’s no chance of finding icons that don’t respond, or pictures that won’t load, just a care-free, eye-pleasing user experience.
The kind of hybrid result between a native app that must be downloaded and installed, and a mobile website, is a mobile web app. Mobile web apps work through the browser, but work and look just like a native app.
The main benefits of the web app are the same as for the native app for the user, but without the need to take up space, or think about deleting old apps just to try out this new app that you’ve seen. For the company using the app the mobile web app serves a different function. Nobody would download a full app just for their local take-away, but when they search for your website and find a web-app, they’re far more likely to return.
There are plenty of other benefits to mobile web application development (click here to see more), as well as some setbacks, but with the advantages it carries there’s no doubt that the use of mobile web apps will continue to rise, and new solutions to the limitations will be discovered.