4 Usability Guidelines For Websites On Mobile Devices

Mobile devices have become an increasingly important part of our lives. In fact, they have become so indispensable that people now suffer from what is called cellphone or smartphone addiction. According to a recent study, there are currently over 1.2 billion people using mobile phones and tablets all over the world and about 4 billion phones in circulation.

That’s approximately 1 in 6 people using a mobile device. Therefore, it is not surprising that mobile marketing has become an integral part of the marketing strategies used by both big and small businesses. Smart businesses are adapting their online front for mobile devices. They’re building responsive websites that adapt to the device on which it is being viewed. Unfortunately, many are not getting it right.

If you’re looking to build a website that’s tailored to your mobile audience, you need to know what to do, how to configure the website, how to improve the landing page… in short, everything that’ll make the website completely functional without compromising on the most important elements. The following usability guidelines should help you know what to do to get the best results. Think of it as a checklist that’ll help you successfully build websites that are optimized for mobile devices.

Content Prioritisation

Mobile devices can only take so much. So even if the main desktop website has a lot of pizzazz, ensure that the mobile edition only focuses on the most important part of landing page. Graphics and beauty aren’t as important as text telling people what you do. And if you prefer videos, configure the website to display just that. Also make sure to create an option –usually in the form of a clickable link- for the “full site”.

Speed and Simplicity

As much as we all like well-designed and aesthetically appealing websites, your priority should be speed and simplicity. Avoid horizontal scrolling and keep the framework and navigation simple. Extras like JavaScript and images –which consume more data- should be configured to load only when absolutely necessary. And even then, use programs like TinyPNG to compress the image size without compromising on the quality. The optimal performance requirement is to keep bandwidth usage at less than 500kb and avoid loading more than 40 elements per query. What this means in lay terms is every time someone clicks through to your mobile site –whether separate or adapted- the website shouldn’t use up more than 500kb of their bandwidth.

Optimize for Multiple Screens

Optimizing your website for different mobile screens is always the smart thing to do. Most businesses just optimize for PCs and phones. Don’t fall into this trap. Factor in tablets, multiple mobile phone screen size and pixels into your designs. As a rule, use screen sizes of more popular devices as your yardstick. Popular screen sizes for tablets are at 7inches now and phones are about 5 inches. Screen resolutions and ratios are currently at between 800 x 480 for phones, 1,024 x 600 for 7 inch tablets and 1,280 x 800 for 10 inch tablets. But also, make sure that the website can adapt to screens with lesser or higher pixel demands. Talk to mobile site experts like the guys at Mobi Manage about this, if you have any doubts. Click here for more comprehensive information on screen size, resolutions and ratios.

Redirects, Text Links and Testing

Whether you’re hosting your mobile site on a separate server/ domain or not, you need redirects. So, create redirect options for your website. If you want your users to take a specific action, providing a well labelled link is always better than clogging the site up with images and pop-up graphics. Those tend to come out weird anyway. When you’re done, try testing the website across different popular platforms. Six Revisions has a good list of mobile emulators. Scroll down to the Testing with Mobile Device Emulators sub heading to get the list.

Do you build mobile websites? Did we miss anything? Do you think mobile site designs –much like website designs- will get easier with time? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section.


Angela Kirk worked for nearly 7 years with an internet marketing company and one day realized she now knew enough to venture out on her own. She is proficient in all areas of SEO and loves helping out those who are new in the industry.

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