Should you approach mobile design differently from traditional web design?
On a broad philosophical level, the answer is no. Good design principles apply across all formats and disciplines, whether you are creating an app, a web page, or a teapot. Design truly succeeds when the creation is intuitive, functional, and beautiful.
That said, when it comes to execution, there are some significant variations between platforms. In particular clearly conveyed visual information—always a benefit—becomes absolutely essential for mobile content marketing when transitioning from desktop design to mobile design.
Why? Here are three key reasons:
1) Screen Size: We all intuitively know that screens on mobile devices, in particular phones, are smaller than desktop/laptop screens. Yet all too often designers forget about the implications of this fact.
With limited screen real estate, overly designed headers become extremely annoying and unwieldy dropdown menus become impossible. Moreover, large blocks of text become prime candidates for skimming and images that don’t scale become essentially unviewable.
2) Interface: Another often overlooked fact is that mobile OS interfaces are fundamentally different from desktop interfaces. Most importantly, fingers and touch (usually) replace mouse clicks and the traditional keyboard.
This means you must account for the fact that a finger is less precise than a mouse, so everything from buttons to fonts need to be bigger and clearer. You should also reduce the number of times visitors need to type in information.
On the plus side, mobile operating systems have some features—such as scrolling selectors for numbers—that are more intuitive than the desktop methods. Since they’re available and users are already familiar with them, you should use these native UI elements as much as possible.
3) Situation: Finally, when designing for mobile don’t forget that your consumers are often on the go. Desktops/laptops are used most when in the home or office, where there is (somewhat) more time to engage. Content on phone and tablets, on the other hand, is just as likely viewed on a bus as on a couch.
For designers this means that it’s essential to make the experience as simple as possible. Don’t overload your page with images, streamline your checkout process, and simplify what you ask for in sign-up forms. Moreover, make essential information (such as prices or location) easily accessible and clearly visible. Finally, if you have splash page get rid of it, or at least disable it for mobile visitors.
Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are already many other very specific mobile design best-practices out there, with more sure to appear as the platforms evolve and mobile content marketing grows. Nonetheless, many of the underlying tenets of these mobile tips are generally the same: If you want to succeed with your mobile content then simplify your offerings, provide clear visual cues, and smartly integrate OS functionality.