The smartphone era took over the world by storm, digitalising much of the modern world and permanently changing the way we work and play.
Colson Whitehead sums up how users interact with their smartphones quite aptly – “I feel about my phone the way horror-movie ventriloquists feel about their dummies: It’s smarter than me, better than me, and I will kill anyone who comes between us.
Everyone wants to get onboard by designing sites for mobile users. With a million questions on your mind, jumpstarting this venture may not be easy. Check out our ultimate guide for mobile design that will teach you some basic tricks of the trade.
How Do I Start?
With any design of a user interface, you should always start with the user. Before diving into the aesthetics and your vision of how the interface should be, invest time in understanding your users in a mobile context.
You will need to understand how your user access your products and services, how much time they spend at your site, features that are crucial to your users and what they feel can be improved on in the current design of your site (Interaction Design Foundation).
Having a user-centered approach and beginning your project by surveying your users can make a world of difference in creating a relevant product.
Are There Any Rules I Can Follow?
Yes! Depending on the devise that you are designing for (e.g. Apple, Android etc.), the operating system itself will have a set of principles that users normally adhere to. With there being differences in navigating both operating systems, it is also in the interest of smartphone companies to explain its guidelines clearly to developers.
Apple, for example, displays its Human Interface Guidelines openly for developers via the Apple website. This includes specific information on its smartphone features for developers such as:
- Creating the first launch experience
- 3D Touch
- Gestures and managing navigations
- Ratings and reviews
Take time to digest the rules so that you can tailor your design to your targeted demographic. But avoid falling into trap of following the guidelines way too closely. Instead of restricting your design to the stipulated guidelines, use it as a good starting point and foundation to build your design. Don’t be afraid to be bold, as long as you bear in mind that the functionalities need to be tested at a later stage.
How Can I Make Sure Mobile Users Will Use My Site?
You may have created a site that you users can access on their phones, but how can you make sure they actually use it? Users will leave your site quickly if it is difficult to navigate on their phones and opt for your competitors who are mobile-friendly.
The solution: Mobile Optimised Websites. More than just being compatible with mobile phones, optimising your site for mobile use comes with its own set of rules – such as not requiring the user not to pinch and zoom in order to read through the text. In addition, features such as tap-to-call and map functionality are also functions of a site that have been designed specifically for smartphones.
With a mobile optimised site, your users are more likely to stay on the site longer which, leading to higher engagement levels with your content.
How Do I Know It Works?
So you’ve jumped through a few hoops before you reached this stage – you talked to your users, you followed the guidelines and you’ve optimised your website. Now what? Get back to your users!
Prototype your site, test it with a sample of your audience and make refinements to create the next reiteration of your site. The testing phase could be very lengthy depending on the number of decisions that you need to make at this stage. Not to mention the time needed to work on the subsequent redevelopment.
Tedious as it may be, designers cannot afford to miss out this important step of the process. Build your prototypes to be successful, but expect for there to be failures. Each failed prototype teaches designers important lessons on how their users interact with the site.
How Do I Get Feedback On The Usability?
The data world offers site designers a suite of tools that can include powerful marketing analytics and solutions for companies. Once your site has been rolled out, stakeholders can monitor engagement levels on their site closely to understand what works and what doesn’t.
The best tools can give you insights on qualitative and quantitative data from both your site as well as your competitors. Both Google and Yahoo have created tools that help you track usage statistics, the source of your traffic and what your users are doing on your site.
Using data to improve your site is powerful as it can directly impact your conversion rates and your profit margin if you use it wisely and timely.
Any final tips?
The journey of developing and sustaining your mobile website is simply that – a journey. There is no specific endpoint as companies should continue to track, develop and make changes to their site where needed. Specifically, companies should keep track of the trends in mobile design which are evolving constantly.
In order to keep up and surpass your competition, the team needs to be in touch with the user’s average experience on other platforms. This means that if the loading time of your website is slower than the average loading time – you are literally and figuratively lagging behind. As part of site development, prioritisation can then be given to enhancements that need to be taken to result in quicker loading times.
Keep abreast with the mobile design field, and pay close attention to launches or website redesigns of your competitors. The changes they have made can also tell you important information about how their users experience have influenced their design.
At Krome, we specialise in website design and development services. If you or your client are interested in creating a site, it’s time to tell us about your project or have a chat about what we can do. You can contact us here.