The way we access the internet has changed over the last ten years. We’ve gone from logging on at home on desktop computers to visiting our favorite sites on smartphones and tablets, often while we’re out and about.
So, if you want to deliver an exceptional experience to your audience you’ll need an effective mobile website design. But what does it mean to make your site mobile-friendly and how do you go about doing it?
In this guide, we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about mobile website design. Keep reading to discover our best practices heading into 2023 and check out examples of some of the best mobile-friendly sites and templates.
What do we mean by “mobile-friendly?”
A mobile-friendly website is one that works across all devices. Nothing is sacrificed whether you’re accessing the site on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop—however, some elements might change depending on the device you’re using to improve the experience.
The rise of the smartphone was a revelation for internet access, but it also presented a host of challenges for web developers. The smaller screens and lack of a keyboard meant some websites didn’t function properly on mobile devices, and others didn’t work at all.
Developers soon realized that they would have to change the way they built sites in order to optimize them for mobile. So, new mobile website design best practices were developed to allow websites to display correctly across all devices.
Why is mobile website design important?
In response to growing mobile internet traffic, Google updated its search algorithm in 2015 to account for how mobile-friendly websites are. The new algorithm rewards sites that are optimized for mobile devices while punishing those that aren’t.
So, if you don’t utilize effective mobile website design you’ll be less likely to appear in organic search results for your desired keywords. But even if you do manage to attract users to your site you’ll run into problems.
According to recent data, 62.06% of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices. If these users arrive at your site and find it doesn’t display or function properly on their device, they’ll probably leave to find a better solution. That means over half of your potential customers will click away before they even give your site a chance.
By having a mobile-friendly site you not only give your pages a better chance of being found, but you’ll also decrease your bounce rate and ensure that every visitor can use your site to its full potential.
Mobile website design best practices
Okay, so by now you know how important mobile website design is. But what do you need to do to make your site mobile-friendly?
Here are seven best practices to follow.
Use larger text
The biggest difference between desktops and mobile devices (especially smartphones) is the size of the screen. The average size of a smartphone display is 6.3 inches, compared to laptops that have displays ranging from 11” – 17”, and computer monitors that are often 20” or bigger.
So, when designing your site for mobile your first priority should be making sure that your headlines and content are still legible on a smaller screen. This means increasing the size of your text.
Sure, most devices give you the ability to zoom in if needed, but that’s not great for your user experience. Ideally, all your text can be read right away without having to make any adjustments.
Make your buttons bigger
Just as important as your content are your CTA buttons. These allow visitors to take the next step and are critical for gathering leads and making sales.
If your buttons are too small, users won’t be able to read your button text. They’ll also have trouble clicking them with their thumb or finger.
Just like text, users can zoom in on your buttons—but it’s best if they don’t have to. Instead, ensure your buttons are the right size for the screen so they’re easy to click and read as soon as your page loads.
Simplify your menus
Dropdown menus are great for websites that have lots of pages. You can create categories and subcategories for your pages, making it quick and easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
There’s just one problem: they don’t work for mobile devices. Without a mouse, dropdown menus are clunky and the smaller screen makes them difficult to use. If your desktop website utilizes dropdown menus, it’s a good idea to switch to a simpler menu for the mobile version.
Start by reducing the number of options. You might want to choose your top five most popular pages and list those. Instead of dropdowns, direct users to pages that list your various categories. This will make it easier for them to click the option they want.
Include a search feature
Perhaps the best way to help mobile visitors find what they’re looking for is to include a search feature. This essentially negates the need for a menu altogether and allows users to simply tell you what they want.
Many mobile website designs place the search feature front and center, allowing it to take precedence over the menu. If your website has a lot of categories and pages, this is probably a smart choice.
Optimize your images
Images are just as important for conveying your message as words, so you’ll want them to display properly.
Here are a few tips:
- Make sure your images can be seen on even the smallest screens. You might have to realign your site so images can fill the entire screen.
- Avoid landscape photos. Most people use their phones in the upright position, which will make landscape images appear smaller. User square or portrait photos instead.
- Compress your images as much as possible. Mobile devices don’t have the same computing power as desktops, so images that are too large could increase load times.
The right imagery can be the difference between making a sale or losing a customer, so ensure your images have the chance to shine no matter what device they’re viewed on.
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Build your pages for thumbs
A big part of mobile website design is remembering that visitors will be using their thumbs, not a mouse and keyboard, to interact with the various elements on your page.
A good exercise is to pick up a smartphone and see which areas are easily accessible with your thumbs. You’ll find that the corners are difficult to reach comfortably, and bigger phones make it virtually impossible to reach the top of the screen.
So, if there’s a button you want people to click put it somewhere that’s accessible with a thumb—ideally right in the middle of the screen.
Make it easy to get in touch with you
As you can see, in order to make a site mobile-friendly, it often has to be simplified. While this provides a better user experience, it might leave visitors with questions if some elements or information has to be removed.
In order to provide answers, make it easy for them to speak with you or a member of your team. Here are a few options:
- Offer a chat service to connect users to your team. Or use chatbots to answer frequently asked questions.
- Provide clickable phone numbers so visitors can call you.
- Use a simplified contact form or a link that takes them straight to their email so they can send you a message.
How do you design a website for mobile devices?
It’s all well and good to know what you need to do to build a mobile-friendly website. But how do you actually do it, especially if you’re not a web designer or someone who’s tech-savvy?
Luckily, website builders like Leadpages make it easy to create beautiful sites that follow mobile best practices.
To start, all our templates utilize a responsive design, which means they automatically reconfigure themselves to suit the device they’re being viewed on. Once you select your template, drag and drop elements into place, edit your text, and add your images.
While creating your site, you can make device-specific sections to further enhance the user experience. For example, if you want your hero section to display a certain way on smartphones you can create a separate hero section specifically for that device.
Finally, you’re able to preview your site in desktop, tablet, and smartphone views to ensure you’re happy with how your site is displaying across all devices.
Mobile website design examples
Need a little inspiration before starting on your own site? Here are five examples of excellent mobile website designs for you to emulate.
There’s a lot to like about the mobile version of Jereshia’s website. The hero image uses a portrait orientation, which works great for the mobile view. She’s also rearranged her hero section so her headline, photo, and description all fit on a mobile screen. Finally, the chat button in the corner makes it easy for visitors to talk to someone if they have questions.
Mattia Di Stasi
This is a very clean mobile design that’s pleasing to the eyes. Clutter is amplified on a small screen, so a clean and simple mobile website design is always a smart choice. Mattia achieves a clean look while also utilizing a number of eye-catching visuals that fit perfectly on the screen.
World Encounter’s website is full of graphics and engaging content, and yet none of that is sacrificed on the mobile version of their site. Everything has been resized perfectly for the smaller screen, providing a great experience for mobile visitors.
Change Agent Template
This Leadpages template looks great on mobile. The headline, description, and CTA button in the hero section display perfectly without having to scroll down, and the rest of the sections are clear and legible for mobile users.
Marvel Virtual Fitness Studio Template
Here’s one more look at how Leadpages templates adapt perfectly to mobile devices. Whatever template you use, your menu will automatically be moved to the hamburger icon to remove clutter and your content will be rearranged to fit a mobile screen. You can then make further adjustments to create your ideal design.
Build your mobile website today
Need the right mobile website design for your business? With mobile-friendly templates, a user-friendly Drag & Drop Builder, and device-specific displays, Leadpages allows anyone to build a site that follows mobile best practices.
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