With such a large number of people now using their smart phones or tablets to access the web alongside their other devices, it is now more important than ever to make sure that your website works for mobile devices as well as laptop and desktop computers.In the past, some companies have offered mobile versions of their sites but these often tend to be a watered down version of the desktop site lacking the functionality of the full version. So how can businesses go about designing sites which offer the same user experience as their desktop site across a range of devices?
The first thing to consider is the aesthetic appeal of the site. Big, flashy animations and entry portals may seem impressive but they won’t necessarily display properly on all devices and can be difficult to interact with when using a touchscreen. Your best bet is to keep things clean and simple and use striking imagery to make your site stand out. Surface preparation and finishing equipment manufacturer, www.airblastafc.com, has recently launched a site which serves as a good example of how you can create an effective multi-platform site using simple design principles. AirblastAFC.com uses a rotating gallery of some of their big projects to great effect. The gallery ensures that anyone visiting the site, no matter what platform they are using,is immediately faced with the company’s most impressive imagery. This is a simple but effective strategy which gives the site aesthetic appeal across a range of platforms.
Next, you should think about how the user will navigate through your site. There’s nothing worse for a visitor than finding a site that seemingly offers the service they’ve been searching for, but is so difficult to navigate that they are forced to give up. Simple, usable navigation is particularly important for mobile devices as the visitor will most likely be using a touchscreen. In designing your site you should consider whether the navigation is large enough and spaced out enough to be accessed by touch. It is also a good idea to give the user some means of accessing the main navigation from every page as it is more difficult to use tabs and navigate backwards and forwards on mobile devices.
Finally, you need to think about layout. If you are designing a responsive web site, as is quickly becoming standard practice, the layout will alter according to the size of the screen it is being viewed on. However, it is still important to think about how your content will be viewed particularly on smaller smartphone screens. The trick here is to keep it simple. Try to avoid lots of side categories and extra links. A single scrollable column is much more user friendly for large amounts of text while a simple grid formation works well for product listings. It’s also important to think about the size of your text. Ideally, you don’t want mobile users to have to zoom. They should be able to read the text whilst viewing your site at 100% – it just makes good sense.
If you keep it simple and don’t over complicate things, designing a multi-platform site can be much easier than it may appear. Thinking carefully about the fundamental aesthetics, navigation and layout of you site whilst keeping the needs of different users in mind will help you to create a site that is attractive, user-friendly and allows you to effectively represent your business across a wide range of devices.