Web Development

Responsive Mobile Web Design- 10 Must-Follow Principles

Principles of mobile site design

Smartphones have become an intrinsic part of our daily lives. For businesses, they have become a source of sales and profits. This is why responsive mobile web design is being talked about on such a large scale. No longer do existing and potential customers need to walk into a store to inquire about a product before making a purchase. The website has all the information, and hence it has to deliver flawless mobile experience. Let’s look at some critical figures. Shall we? 

  1. America has one of the highest numbers of smartphone users in the world. 
  2. The vast majority of Americans (almost 90%) own a smartphone. 
  3. Nearly three-quarters of Americans have desktop or laptop computers while roughly half own tablet computers and another half e-reader devices. 

What do all these statistics prove? It simply shows that businesses and entrepreneurs cannot afford to have a business website that is focused on running well only on desktops and laptops. A website that runs with the same clarity and navigability on any device, regardless of the screen size is the biggest brand asset. This is what responsive mobile website design is all about.

Mobile site design

Now that we clearly understand the importance of responsive web design, let’s dig into 10 must follow principles of Responsive Mobile Web Design. If you are planning to build a responsive website, follow these 10 principles for maximizing sales and conversions.

Know how visitors are using mobiles

It is established that the behaviors of people accessing sites on desktops and smartphones are vastly different. Therefore, before creating a responsive web design, survey the visitors to your website using Analytics and understand why they are accessing your site with mobile devices and which elements of the site are seen the most. It will help you figure out the pages and the information that should be easily available on the small screens.

Focus on navigation

For any website, navigation is crucial. It acts as a roadmap, taking visitors on an easy journey through the site. On desktop versions, the general practice is to embed links in pages that leads to all the relevant pages. For mobile-friendly sites, designers generally use a hamburger icon and hide the links behind it. However, all visitors might not know this aspect and will leave the site once they are unable to access other pages. A better method is to put the essential menu items on the smaller screens and use the hamburger icon to hide other partly inconsequential pages. For quick navigation, put the links on the Homepage of the site. 

Design a lightweight mobile site design

Smartphone users access mobile websites on the go and hence it is important to have sites that are light with quick loading times. And unless users are obliged to you, they will not suffer through slow loading times and will bounce out as quickly as they have tried to visit your site. One of the most important principles of mobile site design is to make it light by eliminating images, coding, and any other extra elements. 

Use media queries

Media queries help to optimize the layout of a website that can easily adjust to various screen sizes. It was first started as an initial proposal for CSS but really took off when browsers extended official support to it in 2012. When using media queries, the website content will react to various conditions on specific devices. Hence, a media query will check and determine width, resolution, and orientation of the device and display the relevant set of CSS rules.   

Vector images work best

Web designers use bitmap images when designing websites. However, to make the sites completely responsive in nature, vector images work the best. Any image can be auto-resized with the help of CSS, but unless it is a vector image the quality will drop drastically when resized.  

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Add forms that trigger keyboards

Forms added to responsive website should adapt to the width and screen size of the device. A step forward in having a fully optimized responsive site is to ensure that the input fields trigger the most appropriate keyboards by including input elements in form fields. Those fields that require name, address, email, and comments should trigger a textual keyboard while those like phone numbers should trigger a numerical keyboard. This not only enhances user-experience but also the mobile-friendliness of the site. 

Easily seen and clickable buttons

Screen real-estate is very valuable for responsive mobile web design and hence designers are often inclined to make the buttons small so that they fit the screen. This leads to reduced visibility and clickability. The best practice is to make them quickly noticeable by using a color that stands out from the rest of the page and putting a rectangle or circle to represent the button. You can use padding to enhance the clickable area, making them 36dp high (1dp – 1px). 

Limit space between content

Putting extra white space between content psychologically leads visitors to believe that there is not much content and the extra spaces are just a ploy to stretch the pages. Do not follow this type of design for your responsive web site. If there are ads, make sure that they are responsive too; else, they will be replaced by blank spaces automatically. 

Pay special attention to typography

An optimized responsive web design is one where the text is legible on the smaller screens, generally around 16px or 1em for the body and proportionate size for the headings. Additionally, ensure that the text and the paragraph lines have adequate breathing room by adjusting the line height of the text to 1.5em. Avoid decorative or script fonts for text or on the menu as they are difficult to read on small screens. Use legible and clean font instead. 

Opt for web fonts over system fonts

System fonts are restricted to desktops and laptops only. Hence, do not use them for responsive web design as they will not work optimally unless the font is backed by the operating system. Prefer web fonts as they are universal and will work with equal clarity on all devices. 

We have discussed all the principles of responsive mobile web design! Keeping the above principles in mind will help you in coming up with an ace responsive website.  Now, it’s time to analyze what makes for a good mobile site design in the first place. 

Responsive mobile web design

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Creating a mobile-friendly website – Pro tips

Creating a mobile-ready website is not a simple task. To help you create the perfect one, here are some tips that will lead to a truly “optimized for mobile” experience. 

Technology selection

The trick is to use a responsive technology framework such as Bootstrap which lays out elements in a grid depending on different screen sizes. Hence, the elements on a large monitor or a laptop are spaced just as well as on a tablet or smartphone. It allows users to have a similar experience regardless of which device is being used to access a site. But more of that later in detail.

Follow index finger rule 

Ensure that the entire site can be navigated with a finger and that there is no need to pinch the screen to enlarge the font size. This is critical as most people navigate through sites with one hand without using the second. Keeping touch screen devices in mind, the buttons should be big enough for even fat fingers. On average, the size of an adult finger is 15 to 20 mm, that is, 45 to 57 pixels on the screen. Hence buttons should occupy at least 45 pixels of space in the areas that will be selected in responsive web design. 

Focus on speed

Mobile web speeds are considerably slower than its cable-powered cousins and hence strip down the large media files such as videos that exist on your desktop site. Repurpose the retina-ready images into lower resolutions with media queries. It is necessary to crop, resize and optimize images that best fit specific aspect ratio and device resolution. This will save a lot of bandwidth and dramatically reduce page loading times. 

Clean and simple design

With your website, you have only a few seconds to convey the most important areas of the business and this is more so when you are designing for mobile devices that are usually browsed on the go. Avoid too many graphics, copy and videos that will distract a visitor from the main message. Use images that are smaller in byte size. 

Manage content

While business owners want a site that is rich in content, one of the key principles of mobile site design is to tell the story in a few words and keep the mobile site uncluttered. Minimize the content on the mobile site to the bare minimum as mobile users scroll down quickly and look for essential content that will catch their attention. 

While business owners want a site that is rich in content, one of the key principles of mobile site design is to tell the story in a few words and keep the mobile site uncluttered. Minimize the content on the mobile site to the bare minimum as mobile users scroll down quickly and look for essential content that will catch their attention. 

Go easy with Java

JavaScript runs differently across devices and browsers and hence you should try and limit the use of this script. Even various models of the same phone can respond uniquely to JavaScript. The trick is to use it optimally so that it does not affect the performance of a mobile-friendly site.

Mobile optimized forms

It is essential to limit the size and the number of forms. Rule out too many fields and ask for information that is absolutely critical. For example, for a mobile website, you can prune down such fields like city, state, zip as GPS is usually accessible and you can know from where your visitors are through analytics tools.

Consider geo-location

Use features in mobile devices like geo-location tags to the maximum advantage. You can give directions to visitors to check in-store availability of products in their location and devise targeted strategies for promotion based on demographics. You can also provide price in the local currency and connect to Yelp and other social communities.


Principles of mobile site design

While all these aspects make for an optimized mobile site design, there is one key aspect here and that is responsive design. There is no point in creating an exclusive mobile-friendly application for your business, disregarding users of desktops, laptops, and tablets. Users in this segment form a significant chunk of Internet traffic that will be visiting your site. This is why responsive sites will now be exclusively studied in detail.                    

Once you have developed a responsive web design, you reap a number of benefits. Below are some more reasons why to go for mobile sites: 

  1. More than half of the traffic to the top websites originates from mobile devices. 
  2. Responsive websites are cost-effective. 
  3. A responsive site is cheaper to develop when compared to building a standalone site for desktops and one for mobile devices. 

We hope we have adequately summed up the importance of responsive web design and the practices and principles maintained by top web development companies of the world. 

Need help with mobile website upgrade? call hello@doynt.com for expert advice and free consultation.  Follow Doynt on Facebook to stay updated with latest design trends and development technologies

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