Get Mobile: Make the most of your site on any device
09.13.16 · Chaney Kimball
If you’ve decided it’s high time to make your site mobile friendly, have a clear direction of what you want the site to do and what messages you want to convey. Keeping your company’s look and feel consistent through all channels builds your brand and fosters greater engagement. Consider the following when creating or redesigning your site for a better user experience (UX).
Hamburgers, circles or labels? Dropdown, slideout or footer nav? With so many options available, deciding what navigation technique to use can be a little daunting.
The default button has become the hamburger. You know, the nondescript icon in the upper right corner what has three lines stacked on top of each other. But, is it the right solution? Testing each option is the only way to know for sure. We’ve found most people interact with the word “menu” more than the hamburger icon. Even adding a box around the word increases its use.
The way users interact with the navigation is critical. The list of links can drop from the top of the page, slide out from the right or left or push you down to an anchored list. Our agency has used all three. We’ve abandoned the anchored list and suggest you do, too. Being pushed to the bottom of the page disorients users and makes it difficult for them to know where they are. The slide out navigation works well and looks good, but on older phones, you can run into page scrolling issues, since there are a lot of moving parts. The dropdown navigation is easy to use, lightweight and familiar to users. Be sure to provide ample thumb space between links to avoid the frustration of bad clicks.
Use Labels not Icons
What’s not to love about the pretty illustrations representing areas on your site? Turns out, plenty. Sure, they’re fun, but are they effective for navigation? Not really. They end up confusing the user rather than being helpful. If you must use an icon, label it. So why not just use the label? Earlier I discussed the hamburger as a navigation icon, when the word “menu” works much better. Don’t get fancy with your page names; keep them simple and easy to understand. Users aren’t going to stick around if they can’t find what they want quickly.
Make Type Readable
This doesn’t mean make headlines as large as possible and you’re good to go. Large headlines can be harder to read and create bad line breaks. With the improvement of current screen resolutions, smaller type is crisper and easily read. Type still needs to be larger, but not as much as you think. Experiment with type sizes, line spacing and line lengths. A good base size for body copy is 16 pixels. Anything under that is too small. Headlines need to be noticeably larger to provide contrast; 24 pixels is a good size to start with. Longer line lengths require more line space, whereas shorter ones need to be tighter.
Do Not Exclude
Include everything on mobile that’s on your desktop site. If there’s too much content for mobile, then it’s safe to assume you have too much content overall. Paring down the information you provide is a good thing. This piques interest and gives users a reason to take an action. Whether it’s requesting more information through a contact form or subscribing to a newsletter. Give them more information upon request.
Calm Down on the Scrolling
Everyone is used to scrolling on a mobile device, but let’s not make it a marathon for your thumb. Scrolling down the page is the easy part, scrolling back up to revisit a point of interest is a pain. Sure, “back to top” links work, but they only do that one thing: shoot you back to the very top of the page. And infinite scroll is terrible on mobile, since there’s no indication where you are on the page or if there’s an end in sight. It delivers a bad user experience.
Test, Test and Test Again
One recent study reveals that since the year 2000, the average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds. That doesn’t give you much time to make your case, to build a relationship or to evoke a desired action. Offering the best possible user experience helps. Good luck. This column ran in the September 15th issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.