How mobile devices are changing what designers do


The PewResearch Internet Project estimates that 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to access the Internet, and finds that 34% of cell Internet users go online mostly from their phones. Industry experts believe that by 2015 more traffic will come from mobile devices than from desktop or laptop computers.

Additionally, the variety of web-capable mobile devices (smartphones, notepads, and tablets) has expanded dramatically. Taken together, these factors have spurred a change in the way designers think when building websites.

Mobile Design

Here we’ll take a brief look at what it means to be a designer in the mobile world and how mobile technology affects branding and web design.

Size Does Matter

Chances are the next visitor to your client’s website will access the site from a mobile device. But will it be a smartphone, a tablet, or a notepad? Before the mobile revolution, designing for screen meant monitor or laptop, but the range of screen sizes available has made web design more complex.

Designing for every web-enabled mobile device is expensive and labor-intensive, so many designers are opting for a “responsive web design” approach — using a more fluid template adaptable to a range of interfaces. This way, the visitor experience is very similar, regardless of the device used; making updates and changes to the site design is easier; and perhaps equally important, the labor and cost of design are kept reasonable.

Resources: Responsive web design: a quick overviewResponsive web design: key tips and approaches

Make Interaction Easy

Mobile users are, by definition, on the move. They do not have the time to jump hurdles when seeking to make a purchase or connect with a service provider. So from a design perspective, that means eliminating the barriers that could cause a prospective customer to look elsewhere.

Say your client is a restaurant. A prospective diner looking for a place to eat will want easy access to a few basics: menu, pricing, location, and contact for reservations. The clarity and accessibility of this information — regardless of mobile interface — will shape the visitor’s choice, and it will happen in seconds. So convenience and navigability are essential. Hard-to-read fonts, detailed descriptions of the linguine, and large blocks of copy describing the chef’s experience risk alienating the mobile customer. Best advice: keep it simple.

Resources: 5 tips to move from graphic design to UX designBranding the world’s 20 best restaurants

Get Social

Social media is an increasingly large part of mobile marketing. Having a presence on Facebook and Twitter has become almost essential for businesses that want to stay connected with their clients, provide responsive customer service, and attract new business.

Today’s designers must think about ways to build social media into the client’s website. Sometimes the most important phrases in social media mobile marketing are “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter.” So be sure the client’s entire web presence is reflected in their site design.

Resources: 7 unbreakable laws of user interface design9 tips for creating a social media page design

Stay Flexible

Market trends and products change quickly, especially in the mobile marketing world. The design of a client’s site should be flexible enough to adapt to market trends, new products or services, and changes in industry tone. A new product launch, for example, should not necessitate a ground-to-ceiling redesign of the site. Communicate with clients about their plans. And where they see their business going. Considering site adaptability now can save you time and trouble in the future.

Resources: Top 10 web design trends for 20146 web design trends that are here to stay

Let us know how you’re changing your practices for the mobile world!


How mobile devices are changing what designers do | manda | 4.5
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