Mobile web browsing now accounts for the majority of web browsing worldwide and approximately 40 per cent of 2019 traffic to mun.ca. Search engines also show a preference for mobile-friendly sites.
In a 2014 study examining the best principles of mobile site design, Google identified that mobile users tend to be “goal-oriented” - they expect to get what they need from a mobile site easily, immediately, and on their terms. It is important to consider this context when optimizing sites to cater to mobile users.
Follow these simple tips to improve your website for mobile usability:
- Keep menus concise and clear-cut - shorter menus with distinct categories are easier to navigate for mobile users. Ensure menus are visible on mobile devices and incorporate in-text links within the main content area to make it easier for users to navigate your site.
- Subject specific menus are best - when designing menus, avoid broad categories and use subject or audience specific menus to help mobile users find exactly what they need quickly and easily.
- Only use images when necessary - many high-resolution images can cause frustrating loading delay on mobile devices (if you must use images, use an online program to reduce the size of image files, such as TinyPNG, or consider using a photo gallery.)
- Ensure your calls-to-action are easy to find and visually stimulating - if your calls-to-action are too difficult to find, or do not catch the users attention, the mobile user will likely lose interest. The call-to-action widget and banners both provide visually stimulating ways for users to interact with your site.
- Avoid causing new tabs to open - take this into consideration when inserting in-text links; if your site will be used predominantly by mobile users, minimize the number of times these links open in a new tab; this prevents piling up of tabs. New tabs should be used when your link points to an external site.
- Typography should be clear and easy-to-read - the screens of mobile devices are smaller than desktop screens; keep typography clear (it is recommended that you use no more than three font sizes on mobile sites) and your content concise (as always, follow the best practices for creating web content).
- Avoid large chunks of text - mobile users are usually more rushed than desktop users, so it is important to keep the body sections of text small and easily readable; break large chunks of text up using bulleted and numbered lists.
- Make use of anchors - divide the content into sections and use anchors to easily navigate up and down the page (also, at the bottom of each section, include a ‘back to top’ anchor to easily return to the table of contents).