Mobile web design is a whole new beast when it comes to design. We are working with a new set of variables as designers: screen sizes are smaller and their dimensions are across the board. Mobile design is relatively new, so there is a bit of discovery and experimentation when it comes to user experience and interaction. Plus, mobile devices are rapidly changing, so you have to stay flexible so that a design can adapt to meet the needs of the audience. And let’s not forget about differences in bandwidth between phone users. These variables create a whole new mix of ingredients that effects how design decisions need to be made.
To add to the mix, we are no longer working with the same exact user as we do with the standard web. The mobile user is generally on the go, (waiting in line, walking the aisles in a store, in their car lost…) and trying to get information quickly without having to wade through tons of excess ads and information. Mobile users browse less, and it’s more likely that they are on the hunt for something specific. Information has to be streamlined and clear of clutter—only key information is given to the users, so they can get what they need quickly.
With mobile’s such limited screen space, sites are often a paired down version of their web counterpart. Often, you also see a link to the full site, a good way to keep your bases covered. A normal sites’ large graphics, videos and odd fitting content, however, can cause viewers to run, not to mention slow their phone down. So, removing the excess (without removing the what keeps users excited), and keeping a more liner vertically scrolling site, is extremely key in keeping the design effective for your users.
When designing for the mobile environment there is a bit of guess work and important considerations that need to be made before jumping head first into design. You need to consider phone and screen-size restraints, but I think most importantly you need to have a good understanding of your users, what information they will want to access and were they will be accessing it from. By streamlining and cutting the fat of our full sites, we can keep our audience’s need for information satisfied. But, we can’t just cut out all of the fun and beauty that keeps users engaged. A great mobile site needs to be functional, fit, and still maintain the excitement of the full website.