Prioritising mobile first design

Mobile first design is not a new concept.

It has been around for more than a decade and it’s used to refer to the strategy of designing and developing digital experiences for mobile devices at the very start of a project; rather than the traditional approach of first designing for desktop and consequently for mobile.

However, the term is possibly more relevant in the business world today than ever before.

As the information we consume online reaches us faster, wherever we are and as the growing use of mobile devices allows us to enjoy services and applications on the move, mobile design can no longer be an afterthought for businesses.

We are clearly moving away from desktop-centric communications to a mobile-centric business world; offering unique, seamless and trouble-free mobile user experience should be a priority for business owners who want to stay ahead of competition and keep attracting customer demand.

People’s increased level of interaction with mobile phones or tablets to access the Internet is rising at an incredible rate; in the UK alone, 74% of people now use a smartphone (up from 51% in 2012) and 65% of all adults use their smartphone as the primary device to go online. This trend inevitably affects daily user demand for features such as faster connectivity and user-friendly design and display.

Mobile user expectations are constantly evolving and businesses that do not want to be left behind need to think about how they can enhance their digital presence on mobile devices.

Despite this increasing pressure, businesses are still failing to deliver great user experience on mobile, suffering the costs as a result: 74% of mobile customers will return to a mobile-friendly site in the future; 67% are more likely to purchase a product or service from a mobile-optimised site than from one that does not display neatly on their mobile screen; and 50% agree that despite liking a business, they will not use them often if the website is not mobile-friendly .

Delivering great mobile user experience

Mobile first design exists to facilitate more than just a seller and buyer relationship. It is a holistic approach to consumer behaviour, it’s about thinking of a customer’s overall online journey on a mobile device. Sleeker structure and core functions such as faster access to information, pages optimised for smaller screens and increased performance across more than one mobile devices are all indicative of effective user experience when developing a mobile first strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when designing and developing a business site for mobile:

1. User understanding

Know who your customers are, their needs, wants, frustrations as well as the tasks they undertake and the context in which they interact with the site. Make your site enjoyable to use and provide relevant content to directly impact your online conversions.

2. One-thumb user centred design

People use their smartphones in various ways to accommodate the size of the device and the context of the website they’re visiting, with 75% being thumb-only users. This means that site content and relevant key actions on larger mobile screens such as tablets, require careful planning and design.

3. The inaccuracy factor

People can inaccurately tap their device screens. Therefore, functions such as ‘delete’, ‘undo’ or ‘empty basket’, should be kept away from other regularly used actions, to avoid accidental taps which can frustrate the user.

4. Centre screen focus

Mobile users have become ‘touch-users’ rather than ‘mouse-clickers’. To account for preferences for viewing and tapping information that is displayed at the centre of the screen, you need to consider the placement of key content and actions.

5. Ease of use

Make your mobile site as intuitive as possible to facilitate user journeys. Investigate ways to minimise the need for typing and focus on design for the touchscreen user. For example when it comes to form filling, consider reducing the number of input fields required.

6. Streamlined processes

Make processes such as signing up, logging in and checking out effortless, to minimise user frustration. Over half of users will quit rather than agreeing to yet another site registration and 92% will give up if they forget a username.

7. Mobile site speed

Speed is paramount when it comes to page load time on mobile devices, with 75% of people in the UK stating that the time it takes to load a page has the most impact on their overall experience. The faster your website loads, the more likely your customers will be to spend more time on it and even return in the future.

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