What You Need To Know About Mobile Website Design in 2020

"With more people choosing to use their smartphones to access the internet, having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever."

By: William Scott, Website & Brand Strategist
Linkedin: WilliamUnsung
Mobile web design is a critical component of your online business. The majority of the world's web traffic comes from mobile devices and this trend continues to grow year by year. Businesses that do not optimize their website for mobile risk falling behind and losing out on visitors and conversions to an ever increasing degree.
Adopting a responsive web design is the most effective way to optimize your website on all devices. Let's go through the importance of responsive web design and what makes a website mobile-friendly. You'll then learn some practical ways to format your website on mobile devices.

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is an approach to website design that allows web pages to display properly on all devices. Responsive layouts automatically adapt to any screen size. With this type of design, your website can provide a quality experience to users whether they are on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Responsive web design works by using flexible grids, images, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) media queries. These files use varying settings to automatically adapt to the user's device based on factors such as screen size, resolution, color and scripting capabilities.


Mobile Web Design

The importance of mobile web design can't be overstated. In the first quarter of 2020, over 51% of all global web traffic came from mobile devices. This is the fourth consecutive quarter in which more users were browsing the web on mobile instead of desktop.
With more people choosing to use their smartphones to access the internet, having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever. Here are some of the most important reasons why mobile web design is critical to your business.

  • Improved user experience: Although they may vary in approach, the objective of your mobile website is the same as the desktop version — inform and convert visitors into customers. If your site is difficult to navigate and doesn't make essential information easily accessible, visitors are more likely to leave your site without completing your conversion goals. However, a well-made mobile site can make it easy for users to find what they want.
  • Helps to build credibility: Users take note of websites they have great experiences with. With a responsive website design, your users will have a consistent experience across all of their devices. This encourages your visitors to view you as a credible source for products or information, and prevents you from losing conversions and inquiries due to one device’s experience being more unwieldy than another.
  • Google is switching to mobile-first indexing: With mobile-first indexing, Google will use the mobile version of websites as the baseline when determining search engine rankings. This update is set for September 2020. With this change, an under performing mobile site will negatively impact your search rankings on desktop as well as mobile.
  • Allows you to reach more customers: Enhancing your mobile web design will help your business expand its customer base. A website optimized for mobile will rank higher for mobile searches, making it easy for the vast number of smartphone users to find your business.
Scrolling a restaurant menu

What Makes A Website Mobile-Friendly?

The reduced screen size makes the user experience on mobile devices much different than those on laptops or desktops. A well-made mobile website must make the most of the limited screen space. It's important not to clutter the screen with unnecessary elements.
On a desktop display, it's easy to use a landscape arrangement, placing elements side-by-side. These devices also provide ample space for large navigation menus with multiple items.
However, this is not the case for mobile devices. There is simply not enough room on the screen to have items placed side-by-side when viewing a website in portrait mode. This is why it is best practice for mobile-friendly designs to stack page elements on top of each other in a single column. It allows the user to only need to scroll up and down to navigate the page, instead of having to scroll side to side as well or risk losing out on additional links, images and other content that they should be able to see.

Here are 6 practical design tips you can use to improve your mobile website design.


Make Text Big Enough To Read

Many site owners overlook this seemingly obvious component.
Users should be able to read everything on your pages without having to zoom in or scroll to the side. Having to continually zoom in and out to read and navigate the page will cause users to leave your site in a hurry. Avoid this problem by ensuring that your text is large enough for mobile viewers to read without needing to zoom in.

Use Simple Menus

There isn't enough space on mobile screens for the large "mega" menus you find on desktops. Mobile-friendly sites tend to avoid showing menu items directly on the page. Instead, they show a button depicting three horizontal lines (sometimes referred to as a hamburger menu), which symbolizes a menu. When a user hits the button, an easy to read menu appears.


Create Simple Forms

Users are more likely to fill out a longer submission form on a computer as the screen is larger and it's easier to type on a keyboard. Forms on mobile devices need to be shorter and have large text fields and buttons.
For example, if you want a visitor to sign up for your email list, you should only ask for a first name and email address.

Use Large Buttons

Like text, the buttons on your mobile website need to be large enough to use without zooming in. You also want to make sure there is plenty of space between hyperlinks. Users may accidentally tap the wrong link if they are too close together.


Make The Search Feature Easy To Find

Your website's search function is important to mobile users. Simplified mobile menus can make browsing your site easier, but they can also make it harder for users to find what they're looking for. Also, scrolling through a large product catalog is more difficult on mobile devices as you're unable to view as many items at once.
Placing the search feature in a prominent position will make it easy for users to find what they're looking for. Like simplified menus, it’s best practice to display an icon indicating the search feature instead of placing the search bar on the page.

Avoid Popups On Mobile Devices

When used properly, popups can be effective on desktop sites. However, they should be avoided on mobile devices. Mobile users aren't looking to have their browsing experience interrupted by a popup that covers the entire screen or is difficult to close.
Google is also not a fan of popups on mobile devices. The search engine penalizes websites that serve certain types of popups on mobile. Those subject to penalties are ones that cover the main content or obstruct a user from viewing a page until it's closed.
Unless it is for cookie or age verification, it is best to avoid all popups on mobile devices.  


Unsung Website Design

Most brands don’t have in-house web design experts, let alone the budget to source a team of them to design, edit, and maintain a professional website. Outsourcing web design has become a standard practice for many businesses as it is cost-effective, easily scalable, and doesn’t require the time and human resource investment of an in-house team. 

Here are some of the most important benefits of partnering with a professional web designer.

  • Cost savings: Partnering with a professional web designer will cost you less than hiring full-time staff as you only need to pay for the time used and not salary, benefits, taxes, and so-on.
  • Experience and expertise: A professional web designer will have significant experience in developing many different kinds of websites. Their teams will often have a variety of specialists in each important area.
  • Keeping up to date: Technology is constantly changing. Professional web development firms are more in tune with technology advancements and can determine which emerging technologies can benefit your business.
  • Fast Service: Being experts at website development, professional designers are able to move through projects much quicker than an internal team — all without affecting quality. They operate in an increasingly competitive industry and must consistently deliver on-time results to keep clients satisfied and maintain their reputation.
  • Allows you to focus on your business: When you are free from worrying about every little detail of your website, you have more time and energy to focus on your core strengths and the value that your business provides. Being the boss doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. Delegate specialized tasks to the specialists.
web design mockup

A mobile-friendly web design can go a long way in winning and retaining new customers. 

Outsourcing website design and development to a professional web designer is a cost-effective way to build a great website that will serve you for years to come. You can leverage the expertise and experience of professionals, saving you time to grow your business and make the important decisions.