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by Lindsey Kempton
Cross-posted with permission from BlueCoda.com
With more and more people relying on mobile devices to look websites up on the go, it’s important to make sure that your website caters to this ever-growing demographic. Designing a site that is easy and simple to navigate on a small touch-screen is vital to avoid frustrating your visitors and losing potential business. So what do mobile users expect?
The one biggest thing you can do to accommodate your mobile visitors, is to design your site to intelligently respond to different device resolutions, from desktops to smartphones. Responsive designs allow the site to adjust it’s layout depending on the size of the screen used for viewing the site. Rather than simply shrink the entire site to fit the screen, items on the page may be allowed to stack and flow differently, creating a longer page, where text, images and buttons stay at a size that is still easily viewable on a small screen. Responsive designs may also change the way a user can interact with the site when on a mobile device. Menus may become device-compatible drop-down menus, and users may be able to use touchscreen features such as swiping, tapping and other actions.
Link to "Desktop Version"
While a special, responsive mobile version of the site is ideal for many users, it is important to leave a link where mobile users can switch to the version of the site that would be viewed on a desktop computer. If a user is more familiar with the desktop version of a site, it can be more convenient and faster for them to use that version to find the information they are looking for. The "Desktop Version" link should also be placed in an intuitive place, so that users do not have to waste time searching for it. The typical placement for this link would be at the bottom of each page of the responsive version of the site.
Don't Use Flash
This step benefits all visitors to your website, but is especially important for mobile users. A properly optimized website loads more quickly, and if pages are optimized, they will download a minimal amount of data when the page is opened. Both of these are important to mobile users, as many may try to open your page from an area where they have low connection, and need pages to be light in order to load. Even if a user's connection is fast, you still want to make sure that your pages are optimized in order to not eat up users' limited phone data.
Keep Contact Info Handy
Because mobile users are already browsing your site on a device that can easily be used to contact you through other apps, place your contact information in a place that is easy to access. Phone numbers can be dialed by users on smartphones or over VoiP apps and addresses can be opened in a maps app, making the experience more convenient for a mobile user.
By taking the steps to create or refocus your website using mobile-first web design, you embrace a rapidly growing demographic, and allow them to find and use your services as easily as possible.