This month, Ofcom reported that Smartphones had overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online for the first time, with 33% of internet users seeing their phone as the most important device for accessing the web. Clearly, having a good mobile presence has never been so important. For mobile to be a success, though, brands need to start viewing their mobile sites as a project in themselves, not just an extension or add-on of their main desktop site.
There’s a lot of information out there on what you should be doing with your business’ mobile site to make it user friendly, but what are the things that you need to avoid? Here, are my top five things NOT to do when it comes to UX on mobile:
1. Treating all of your outlets in the same way
Mobile and tablet devices and laptops are used in different ways, so why would you treat them the same when it comes to your website design? Different screen sizes and varying bandwidths are just two things to bear in mind; but more generally, you will need to leave things off mobile that are on your desktop site. Less is more, and you don’t want a site to be cluttered - it makes for a complicated UX.
Interaction designs in particular should be amended when it comes to mobile. Hover tools, for example, aren’t an option on mobile or tablet, which is one of the biggest differences between these two technologies. Swipe gestures should be considered, as on mobile or tablet users tend to swipe with their finger or thumb, whereas on desktop an arrow or button needs to be clicked. Keeping these elements in check can only improve the UX of your website, pleasing both Google and your customers.
2. Not implement HTML5 form inputs
Forms on any site are key to conversions, so the process should be made as easy as possible. Using HTML5 form inputs will generate the right keyboard for a specific device. For instance, when inputting an email address the ‘@’ button will become available. The majority of internet browsers now support HTML5 so it’s best that you start incorporating this as soon as you can if you haven’t already. HTML5 is also backed by Google, so you can’t go wrong by integrating this.
3. Create small target/touch areas
Having touch and target areas smaller than the smallest average fingers can be incredibly frustrating for a user, and could lead them to abandon your site early on if they struggle to use it. The recommended range for touch targets is 7-10mm, so it’s best to keep in line with this to avoid users leaving your site before they’ve converted. It’s also worth noting that consumers on the whole will be using their thumbs to navigate their Smartphone, so touch areas that are too small won’t allow any precision, adding extra irritation.
4. Think all users are experts
Trends are tempting to follow, but seriously consider the impact they could have on your UX before you do so. The burger icon for example – the three dashes often found on mobile sites where the menu drops down from – is seen on a lot of mobile sites at the moment, but those less experienced in mobile internet could potentially struggle to find the menu to begin with. Keep things as simple as you can, it’s the best way to appeal to the majority.
5. Think all users expect the same from your mobile site
If your business has a native app, it’s vital that you don’t treat this in the same way as your mobile site, as usually users aren’t after the same experience. Those customers already invested in your brand might download your app and even spend money on it – and apps repay them typically by offering a personalised experience. For example, a clothing app might access a user's Smartphone camera, to help them decide on a particular item. However, mobile sites don’t work in the same way, and often those visiting your site on mobile are just browsing anyway, so a more straightforward experience is more suitable.
UX on mobile can sound intimidating and difficult to get right. But there’s no point in investing a lot of resource into something that is difficult to use, as it will radically reduce your chances of conversions and being able to get your message across successfully. Taking these five things into consideration when designing – or redesigning – your mobile site breaks the process down into manageable chunks, and should put you in good stead.
By Chris Bush, Head of User Experience (UX) at Sigma.
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