Building a mobile website doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact, if you already have an existing business website online then extending your reach to mobile should be no more work (and feasibly even less) than it was to set up your standard desktop site.
With this said it will entirely depend upon your business, your existing website, and your mobile website needs. There are some different ways you can go about mobile website development, here though are all the most essential need to know details of making up your mind.
The first option you have for designing a mobile website is to scale down your current website as an “m-dot” style subdominant. This is a fairly traditional way of solving the problem and has the effect of retaining the integrity of your standard desktop website. On the other hand, there are certain notable downsides to using a mobile subdomain, and as an option, this one has become a little old school in recent years.
The most recommended way to develop your mobile site is hands down to use responsive design. What this entails is taking your mobile design and by using a grid of the content, scaling it to be able to respond to a wide range of different screen sizes. The ever evolving ways and mediums that we use to browse the web means that responsive mobile website design is also probably the savviest investment in the long term.
Mobile web app
Finally, depending on your needs, you could develop a mobile web app. A mobile web app works much like a website, and is accessed via a URL or through a search engine, the defining difference being that a mobile web app looks and feels just like a native app – one that you’ve downloaded and installed from the App Store. Mobile web apps are perfect for a minimal website, but probably not if your website is content rich.
Developing an app is something that might be so particular to the needs of your website that you feel you’re starting from the drawing board. This doesn’t need to be the case though and there is plenty of advice and inspiration available for mobile web application development best practices which can give you a clue where to get started.
Consider a template
There are some fantastic services out there which can make developing a web app incredibly simple, Ember for example is fairly new but shows fantastic potential for where application development might be heading. Using different levels of templates a developer can save tonnes of time by taking advantage of ready made customisable icons and designs. Ember have a fantastically simple approach to app design and if nothing else you can take some good inspiration from trying it out.
Edge web fonts is another fantastic web tool for app development. Thousands of totally free original fonts at your fingertips, what more could a developer ask for.
Friendly on the eye
If you’re developing a mobile web app rather than making a responsive website then you must take the opportunity to make your app visually appealing. It’s so simple to create an attractive app compared with the challenges of a mobile website that you need to create something stunning.
And always remember that the primary purpose of your web app is to serve your customers via their handheld device. Making a thumb friendly app isn’t hard though, and it’s kind of the whole point of an app to be natural on a mobile device. Use large icons and ghost buttons, high res imagery and horizontal scrolling can all add to the ease of use for your mobile users.
There are plenty of other great ways to wow your user with web apps, most importantly though make sure your app is hyper functional, if not, what’s the point?
Creating a mobile website which appeals to your customer, stands apart from the competition, and runs smoothly can be tricky. By keeping refreshed on current mobile web development practices though you stand your best chance of doing all of these things and boosting your online success in the long run, so let’s take a look at some best practice tips for mobile website design.
Make it friendly on the eye
It might seem obvious, but it’s amazing just how far wrong so many websites go with their design. Rule number one before you attempt anything classy should be to design a plain and simple website design. From this base it’s easy to try out new things without having too much work to revert them back if ineffective, the other benefit of simple clean website design is that it helps to keep your web pages fast.
The limited screen space is one of the most important characteristics of designing for mobile, recent innovations in design like cascading menu bars are great ways to create a unique browsing experience for your mobile viewers.
Make it fast
Following from our last point it is absolutely essential and especially for mobile browsers who are familiar with loading a web page in seconds. There are plenty of ways that your developer can help to speed up your website, these can include streamlining media on your website and removing unnecessary images or animations. Mobile devices have small screens, that’s the whole point of designing for mobile, so remember this when choosing which images and other media to include in your mobile website.
Smart site architecture
Finally make sure that navigation around your site is smart, simple, and most importantly intuitive. Moving from page to page should be a joy, suggested reading / products, a logical site map, and concise internal linking will keep your viewers viewing, and it makes the job for Google crawlers far easier too.
Over the past 5 years or so mobile browsing has emerged from being something fairly new and novel to the most voluminous way we browse and shop online. For this reason it’s extremely important that if you hope to be competitive online that your mobile website is absolutely tip top.
In this post we’d like to take a look at some trailblazers when it comes to mobile design in hope we give some inspiration for you and your mobile website design.
Plenty of mobile websites unfortunately are not up to scratch, and research shows that despite evidence of the trends, companies are still investing far less in mobile design than for their desktop alternative. You’ve probably seen many mobile website examples of sites which will not format properly, or which simply will not load on your mobile device. This can be a really poor first impression for your potential customers, and may make them wary of returning in the future.
Here are some examples of mobile websites which really do things differently, and which stand as fantastic examples to aspire too.
Browsing Amazon using a mobile device really couldn’t be simpler, and this in itself has had a huge impact on shopping trends in Europe and the US. The website is clean, simple, secure, and fast – all key features to look out for in your own mobile website.
Asos is a true fashion powerhouse, they were one of the first and probably the best at taking advantage of the online platform as a move away from high street shopping. Similarly their mobile website is the bees knees and makes for an absolute pleasure to browse. Even with hundreds of thousands of products each page is packed with info, images, cat walk videos as well as interactive features like hidden menus to save all of the small screen size for the content.
One of the most impressive mobile news websites, next to other great examples like the huffington post, the guardian mobile experience makes reading on mobile feel as natural as flicking through the paper pages always did.