Small Design, Big Ideas

Brant Kelsey / November 5, 2009

As a business owner, you have spent alot of time and consideration on your current website. What you may be wondering now is, is it possible to translate the big ideas of your current site into a smaller space such as the mobile web. This article will aid you and your team so you can make smart design decisions for your mobile website.

Let's start with a little background knowledge. The difference in viewing a site on a 20 inch monitor verses a 128 x 160 pixel cellular screen is huge and may plant doubt and skepticism in the mind of many. However, web browsing on mobile devices is on the rise and if a mobile site is well strategized, your mobile site can have a huge impact on your business. With so many devices and screen sizes it will be critical to identify your targeted users, their devices, and their needs and then tailor the design of the site to compliment the functionality. Now to the nitty gritty. Try asking yourself, “why should a user come to your site and what is it they need to be able to do?” Once this is done, the functionality and design of your mobile site can begin to take shape.

When designing a mobile site, there are three main ideals that should be kept in mind. First, you should keep your design simple. Second, always keep your design concise. Lastly, target your users needs. For a current web designer, keeping the design simple may be a bit of a challenge. The easiest way of doing this is to take a hard look at the mobile site design and ask the question, “is this graphic/image needed to make this site successful?” Once all the excess is stripped away, the core of the mobile design will be revealed. In this instance, less really is more.

Next, try deciphering what content is needed for the mobile site to be successful, but remember to make the content concise. This allows the user to concentrate on the core purpose of the mobile site and design. Having detailed graphics and wordy copy on buttons and backgrounds may seem appealing, but the truth is, many phones will be bogged down with screen-load time and cost the user time and money. Instead, try sticking to solids and web safe type with only necessary content. Color has a huge impact on the look and feel of a mobile site and can drive a users focus and fuel their interest. Also consider clear and concise buttons for your audience to select, limiting images to those necessary to deliver your message.

Lastly, target the users needs immediately. Use color and web safe type to drive the users directly to the call to action(s) or important content when they first arrive. The two previous steps will help you get to this point, but it's going to take some serious analysis to pinpoint the users exact and specific needs. For each function of the site, ask the following questions: why does the visitor need your mobile site, what action or information does the visitor need to take away from the site, and will this function make the users interaction with your company better and/or easier? Once you can answer these questions, you can then tailor the design to have maximum impact that will compliment the functionality of the mobile site. Just remember, mobile devices are not equipped with a mouse, so jumping around through a site is not a realistic option.

So, can the big ideas of a pc website translate to a small space like a mobile website? Absolutely! In fact, a mobile site may reach clients in a way that your current site does not. Mobile users are on the rise. Cell phones just may be what your business needs to offer clients a new way to access your services.

For detailed information on mobile web statistics and other information, please refer to The Mobile Web for the CEO by Brandon Eley.

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