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Tips for Mobile Development: Making the Most for Smartphone and Tablet Users

  •  6-9-2014

Global Insights, the leading site for web statistical data, estimated that mobile users would overtake desktop Internet traffic in 2014. (tweet this) Have you checked your user statistics? Chances are that you have more mobile users than you think. With mobile use on the rise, you need to create a website that’s responsive and caters to slower, unreliable bandwidth for mobile Internet connectivity.

Responsive Web Design

You probably heard “responsive” design when you shopped around for website themes and layouts. Responsive designs are basically the layouts, CSS and HTML code that adjust based on the user’s screen size.

There are a couple of free, open-source frameworks available for download. One framework is Bootstrap. Bootstrap was created by developers at Twitter, and it’s also useful for regular desktop layouts. Bootstrap makes it easy to turn a static desktop design into a website that works with smartphones and tablets. If you’re a web designer, Bootstrap should definitely be a part of your code library.

Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes

Users interact with mobile designs differently than desktop designs. With desktop designs, the user has a mouse and keyboard with a large monitor. With mobile devices, you need to remember that users interact with thumbs and fingers. It seems like a simple design principle, but it’s not. You must make your design intuitive for mobile users, which means no easy mouse-clicks. The font must be large enough for small screens, and buttons and other form controls must be easily pressed or tapped using fingers.

The only way to properly put yourself in the user’s shoes is to test your design. (tweet this) Make sure you log in and interact with your website using only mobile devices. Find out what part of your design is frustrating and change it.

Keep Content Short

Scrolling on a mobile device takes more than using a mouse. Keep your textual content short. You can still use images, but make sure these images don’t interfere with reading your content. And try to make your images responsive as well. Remember that users might be reading your content in the car or on the run. Because users need the information quickly, get to the point and provide the information at the top of your pages without making the user scroll down.

For instance, if you run a website for a brick-and-mortar business, most mobile device users probably search your site for contact information. Keep your contact pages easy to find and place the information at the top.

Be Careful with JavaScript

Web design is moving towards more JavaScript models. However, the one issue with JavaScript is that it functions differently for each browser. JavaScript doesn’t always work the way you expect when users download random browsers other than the main three (Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox). You don’t need to eliminate JavaScript entirely, but keep it to a minimum when creating your mobile website.

Use Geolocation Code

HTML 5 includes geolocation functionality. Geolocation gets the user’s map coordinates, so you can direct him to your location from the user’s current location. You can also render content based on the user’s location. For instance, if you have multiple stores in different states, you can display the closest location based on the user’s map coordinates.

Conclusion

Responsive design makes your website layout slightly more difficult to set up, but the procedure is worth the effort. Successful websites cater to desktop and mobile users. (tweet this) Even if you currently have a design, you should consider an upgrade for mobile devices.

Photo by Johan Larsson

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