Mobile Site Design: How to Build and Create Websites for Mobile Devices (+Make Friendly Web Design)

on Website Design July 01st, 2021

Having a well-designed, functioning website is absolutely crucial for any business in today’s economy. It’s where almost all your potential customers will go to find out information or buy something. This is why it’s so important to make sure you invest in creating an excellent site, to create a user experience that will have visitors wanting to come back for more. Unfortunately, all too many businesses often overlook one crucial thing: the importance of having a mobile site.

These days, far more people use their mobile devices for browsing sites, online shopping, and more, making life far more convenient. But there are still plenty of websites out there only designed for desktop use whose content looks, and feels, dreadful on a phone or tablet thanks to poor mobile website design.

Ask yourself, how many times have you tried to go on a website on your smartphone, only to give up in moments because the layout was all over the place, loading times were too long, or the whole design was almost minuscule? Having a website designed for both mobile AND desktop is vital for businesses today. It’s vital to properly invest in mobile website design, and even use a website builder.

So how do you create a mobile website design that your customers can easily use at any time and any place, no matter what device they’re using? This article will give you information on the best practices and some top tips on what to do and what to avoid when creating the best mobile website for your business.

Why Are Mobile Sites Important for Your Business?

So why is it so crucial that you design your website with both desktop and mobile users in mind? The main reason is the prevalence of mobile users compared to just a decade ago.

With more and more users choosing to browse through their phones and tablets rather than use the desktop website, you need to be prepared for it or you could potentially lose out on a massive percentage of potential visitors to your site, due to poor user experience on mobile.

Let’s take a look at the numbers to see why a mobile-friendly website is so important. Recent projections show that mobile eCommerce in the United States reached $284bn in sales at the end of 2020. To put that into perspective, that’s 45% of the total US eCommerce market. So if you’re not using a mobile website and just relying on your desktop website, you could be losing almost half of your potential customers.

One of the reasons why a mobile website helps drive eCommerce so much is that they allow companies to make sales at any time to customers anywhere using mobile devices.

However, if you have poor mobile website design you could be set to lose a lot of this business, as it will offer a subpar experience for visitors.

It’s also important to remember, that not only will mobile users dislike your site if it’s not mobile- friendly, but so will search engines like Google.

A factor that Google takes into account when it ranks search page results is how easy it is to navigate a page.

Google doesn’t just look at the desktop website either, it also checks the mobile site. So if you haven’t created a well-functioning mobile site then you could be really hurting your Google rankings.

Making Sales From Anywhere

Most people use the internet to find out information on products and services before making a purchase.

You need to create a mobile website that users can find if you even want to be considered along the customer journey, and it needs to be usable on mobile devices.

It’s not enough to hope consumers find your brick-and-mortar store anymore. Having a mobile website helps open you to far more customers, as anyone with access to the internet can find you.

This increasingly means people out and about with mobile devices, not just at home.

Now, people can visit a mobile website and do their groceries during their commute, they can book a holiday while sitting at a bar with friends, or buy birthday gifts while having a walk in the park.

The more users that can find and visit your mobile websites from anywhere, the more sales you’re going to make.

Making Sales at Anytime

Mobile websites do not just help with the ‘where’ (where users can find you to learn about your brand and buy your products), it also helps with the ‘when’.

Most brick-and-mortar stores are only open for a set amount of time each day, limiting the hours in the day they can actually make a sale. Building your mobile-friendly website to include an online store, means your products are just one click away.

When you take into account customers’ own busy schedules and the time they spend working, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for everyone to go to a shop and buy something.

An online store on a mobile website on the other hand is up and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

This means your products and services will be available around the clock if you create a mobile website, so you can make sales at any time. With the advent of smartphones, life has been made even easier, and users don’t even need to be at home on their desktop computers to buy something, they can visit your mobile-friendly online store from anywhere at any time in the palm of their hand.

How to Design a Great Mobile Site

Here are some general elements you should keep in mind to design a great mobile site.

What Are the Different Types of Mobile Web Design?

Now you’ve decided to optimize your site experience for mobile users, it’s time to start working on the actual mobile web design.mobile site

There is no single template for a great mobile website, so you need to decide what will work for your mobile-friendly site and business. One of the key things to decide on with mobile website design is Responsive Design vs. Mobile-Only Design.

Both of these mobile web design techniques make it easier for mobile users to browse and view websites on a mobile device, but they do so through different methods.

If a mobile website uses either responsive or mobile-only design, then users won’t have to keep zooming in or trying to tap minuscule links on their mobile screens, like they would on a website that was only created with a desktop version in mind.

Responsive design goes into your whole website, both for mobile and desktop. This means that both your mobile website and desktop sites will be the same website. It works by detecting the kind of device the visitor is using and how big it is. It will then automatically scale the website to match the size of the device’s screen, making it much easier to scroll and browse for the user.

Mobile-only design, however, doesn’t adapt to users’ screen sizes. Instead, you create an entirely new, separate mobile website from your original desktop website, that is specifically designed for mobile.

This way when users visit your site, they will be directed to either the mobile version or desktop website, depending on what devices they are using.

Both mobile web design approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, so you need to consider the needs of your business, your customer base, and how your website currently works before you decide which one will work best for you.

There’s no definitive right answer to the best mobile website design approach, so it’s really up to you which design method you prefer.

It helps to look around the web at other mobile-friendly website design examples, before deciding on the right type of design for the mobile version of your website. Think back to when you last had a great web experience on a mobile website, and look at the features they used for their mobile design. It can work well to include the mobile optimized features you’ve found helpful in the past on your own mobile website.

Top Tips for Best Mobile Web Design

Once you’ve chosen whether to use a responsive or mobile-only site design, you then need to think about the actual design elements you need to use when creating your mobile-friendly site.

It’s really important to remember that users will be using devices with much smaller screens, and will be navigating it using their thumbs, not a mouse cursor, so you need to make it easy for them.

When you take this into account, you should realize the differences between mobile website design and desktop site design, and pick design elements that will make your page as simple and easy to use as possible for a smartphone user.

Let’s take a look at a few key points you could include when creating your mobile sites.

Navigation is Key

In order to improve navigation, you should:

Make Your Menus Simple

Menus are an important feature of any website design, desktop or mobile. An easy-to-find, clear, accessible navigation menu will make navigating your page much easier, thus improving visitors’ experience on your website.

Smartphones have small screens so they can’t fit a lot of content on one frame. Therefore you don’t want visitors spending a long time rooting around your page looking for the menu.

You should make it easy to find for users no matter where they are on your page.

It’s sensible to use the hamburger menu symbol, consisting of three horizontal lines, that is pretty much universal across the internet. This simple, aesthetic design should be instantly recognizable to most users as the menu.

Once a smartphone user has found your menu, you don’t want it to be pages and pages long, forcing them to endlessly scroll until they find the content they were looking for.

Therefore it’s important to be economical with the number of items on the menu. Only include what you definitely need and keep it relatively short and concise. Remember, like the hamburger menu symbol, simple is key.

Make Your Mobile Websites Searchable

Of course, even with a concise, easy-to-use, and easy-to-find menu, some users will still find it fiddly to navigate your site with it, compared to using a desktop site.

Therefore a web design feature that’s really helpful to include is a search function on your mobile sites, as visitors may prefer to use a search bar when navigating a page.

That way they can simply type the information they need into the search bar like on Google, and find content quickly, rather than scrolling through a menu. If you do choose to include a search bar, then also ensure it’s easy to find.

Most users have come to expect to easily find a search bar in the top corner of their screen, that stays in place wherever they are on the site.

Also, make your search function easy to use. Typing on a small device screen can be trickier than on a desktop computer keyboard, so make sure to include features such as auto-completing keywords and phrases, suggesting related queries, and correcting spelling mistakes.

This will make your search function much faster and easier to use for visitors browsing your mobile site.

Remember, just like menu bars, you also don’t want your search results to be pages and pages long, as this will be more cumbersome to navigate on a small screen.

However, it’s still important to not leave any important content out if that’s what a customer is looking for.

This is why using filters on your search results can be a really helpful mobile website design feature. It will allow visitors to cut out any content they’re not looking for, and focus on what they need. It will give users a much more concise, and far more relevant, search results page letting them find what they need swiftly.

Make it Easy to Find Your Way Back Home

In addition to having an easy-to-find search bar and menu, something else that makes site navigation much more mobile-friendly is an accessible home icon.

When using a site on a mobile, it can be harder to find your way back to an earlier page, as the ‘back’ and ‘forward’ keys aren’t as prominent as they are on a desktop browser.

This is why it helps to have a handy little home icon in the top corner of the screen that a user can simply tap to take them back to the original home page at any time.

It’s a web design feature that will save users a lot of frustration and keep them using and coming back to your site.

Put Calls to Action at the Front

A lot of those who visit your site probably already know exactly what they need from you, which is the reason for users visiting in the first place.

If they’ve come to make a sale, or book an appointment, or make use of any other product or service your business may provide, they don’t want to spend a long time rooting around looking for it.

This is why it helps to put any calls to action front and center of your homepage. That way, for the majority of visitors who are visiting for a specific purpose, they can find it immediately and proceed to make a purchase.

Additionally, for users who haven’t come specifically to buy something, if they see it right there in front of them, it might make it more likely to convert users to a sale.

Also, why not make your call to action really eye-catching? Don’t just have a drab bit of text with a hyperlink, use great product images, and inviting buttons that make users want to click on it, and ensures you grab their attention.

Remove Clutter

While it’s great to ensure your main calls to action are front and center on your landing page, so your visitors can’t miss them, you do not want the same thing for less useful things.

While it can really help to include promotions, newsletter sign-ups or adverts on your desktop site for various purposes, they’re not as desirable on a smaller screen size.

If these promotions and pop-ups appear on a mobile site, then it’s likely that they will take up a massive portion of the screen, making it unusable to those on smartphones.

Therefore you should try and ensure that these only appear on your desktop site. Remember as well, the easier your site is to use and navigate, the better search engine ranking it will receive on Google.

Allow for Guest Users

These days, many businesses ask online customers to create an account with them before accessing content, making a purchase, and much more. There are plenty of good reasons for this, such as personalizing the user experience for later and being able to contact users with news and offers.

However, while it is fairly easy to sign up for an account using a desktop, it can be far more annoying and fiddly to type in all of your contact details and information when using a small smartphone. If you make all users do this, then there is a good chance that some will just give up so will never even get to buy anything, which is obviously terrible for your business.

This is why you should always include an option to let visitors make a purchase and other actions as just a guest. It might not be as useful as having their information in an account, however, it is far more preferable that they buy a product or service as a guest than if they just don’t do it at all.

Of course, if you do have users coming back who have signed up for an account, it’s important to make things as easy for users as possible as well.

Make sure you include functions that let them autofill their contact information when they return to make another purchase, rather than forcing them to type it all out every time they try and log back on to your site.

It’s also a good idea to just make your contact form as simple as possible. Don’t ask for loads of information that won’t be that useful, as it will take longer for website visitors to fill them out, meaning some might not even bother.

Instead, keep it concise. If it’s for a mailing list you don’t really need much else other than their name and email address.

Size Matters

You need to remember that one of the main differences between someone browsing your page on mobile vs using a desktop, is that when they’re using a mobile they’re navigating with their thumbs, rather than a mouse.

Obviously, it is far harder to be precise when using thumbs over a cursor, so you need to take this into account when designing your website.

One useful thing you can do is to use buttons, rather than just text with a hyperlink embedded.

Large buttons will be much easier to use on a smartphone than small text. You should also be conscious of spacing, and make sure that links are well spaced, otherwise, users could easily tap on the wrong link

The other issue relating to size is remembering that device screens are much smaller than that of a desktop. Therefore you need to make sure your mobile site is scaled accordingly.

This means you need to use larger text, that a visitor can easily read without having to zoom in.

Of course, this does mean you may need to adjust your page design and layout as well to account for larger font sizes.

It’s also wise to keep written content down to a shortened amount. No one wants to read a huge essay on their smartphone, so keep articles and blog posts short and snappy using clear language.

If you are worried a piece is a bit too long you can signal it with ‘X min read’. This lets you tell users how long it will take to read an article so they know if they have time to scroll through.

On the topic of written content, it could also help to give visitors the option to read it in another language other than English.

Your mobile site will be accessible all over the world, so including translations can really help a site too.

Make Yourself Easy to Contact

One reason why someone might be visiting your website is that they’re looking to get in touch with your business.

There could be a few reasons for this, such as trying to find out more information, or if they have an issue with your products or services. If it’s the latter then they might already be feeling negative so you don’t want to exacerbate it.

Therefore, it’s important to make your contact details really easy to find on your mobile site. You don’t want to frustrate your users anymore through a poorly navigable, hard-to-use page.

There are plenty of ways to do this, such as putting your contact page somewhere easy to find on the menu.

Another, more mobile-savvy approach, is to use chat boxes. This allows your visitors to instant message with a member of your customer support team at the tap of a button.

You can have the icon for this floating in the corner of the screen, meaning that visitors can access this feature at any time on your page.

If a user would prefer to contact you via phone, then it’s also possible to make this easier on a mobile site.

Don’t just list your contact phone number on your page for them to type in themselves.

Instead, you can include click-to-call links, which means they just need to tap it, and then their device will start dialing.

Of course, it’s always wise to include a confirmation before it starts calling just to avoid any mishaps.

Keep Load Times Low

We’ve already discussed how important it is to make the user experience as smooth as possible on a mobile website. One key factor is having good site speed.

You should aim to make sure your page loads as fast as possible, by keeping unneccessary content off it.

This is is important on the desktop version of your website as well as the mobile version.

However, a mobile device won’t have the same computing power as a desktop computer so may be more susceptible to slower loading times.

Want to Create Your Own Mobile Site? Contact Fannit Today!

A good mobile website is such an important asset for any company today, regardless of the type of business or what sector they work in.

It has great benefits for brand recognition, marketing, sales and so much more. Any business should definitely be thinking about adding one if they don’t already have one. And it always helps to consider if your current one needs a revamp.

However, if it seems like a daunting task then there is help at hand.

Having so many choices of how to design it, what features to use, and which is best for your business purposes, could mean that you’re not sure where to start. If this is the case it never hurts to ask for help or use a website builder tool.

At Fannit, we have plenty of experience with mobile web design for businesses.

As digital marketers, we know just how important a well-functioning mobile website can be for a business, so we know how to make great mobile websites.

If you need help with deciding between Responsive or Mobile-Only design, how to adapt your layout, or just how big to make everything, then please get in touch and see how we can help you make the perfect mobile website for your business.