Learning Mobile Web Design at An Event Apart
Loud Dog was at An Event Apart last week! If you saw some of my tweets, I was definitely going to 11. An Event Apart features some of the greatest minds in modern web design. I attended the all-day workshop portion of the event, and the presenter, Luke Wroblewski, flooded my noggin with mobile web design gold. Mobile design is still young and growing fast. I want to share with you some of the concepts so that you may incorporate them into your design practice and stay fresh.
Design for simplicity
The key to designing for the mobile platform is to keep the interactions fast, easy-to-navigate, and responsive. If any clicks cause a disrupted user experience, the user can be left with a tainted impression. We have to design for zero frustration. We can improve the user experience in various ways:
- Reducing the number of clicks it takes to reach desired information
- Decreasing the time it takes to load each page in our mobile apps
- Reducing the clutter in mobile apps (tiny screens) which include navigations, ads, secondary content items, etc.
There’s an infinite number of more improvements, but most of them require you to eliminate the clutter and simplify the design.
Design with mobile in mind from the start
Desktop web design is much different from the mobile web platform. Instead of making two separate sets of content, why not use the mobile experience for the desktop experience? We are already streamlining the content and information architecture for an awesome user experience. Why not apply that awesome-ness to the full-sized desktop version too? It’s much more difficult to shoehorn a large corporate site into a mobile website than it is to scale the mobile experience up. There’s usually so much content on a desktop site’s homepage that it would overwhelm the tiny mobile version. We can have an optimized desktop experience by starting with the already-optimized mobile experience.
We need to keep our minds open to new technology
More and more people are picking up mobile devices that are connected to the internet; usage is growing exponentially. It’s growing so fast that companies are afraid of falling behind. The mobile device medium is still fairly young, but it’s already evolving. We already transitioned from buttons/joystick interface (Blackberry) to a touch screen interface (iPhone), and now we’re moving toward an non-physical interface like iPhone’s Siri. We’re going to have to start designing application APIs to work with Siri next and not just the touch interface. Technology is growing and evolving quickly. We need to stay flexible and adaptable if we want to effectively reach our customers.
We can learn a lot from how mobile applications are designed. We can use principles like simplifying, streamlining, and staying adaptable, and apply them to all parts of our businesses, like to web design, industrial design, content strategy, and even our branding platforms. Simplify and optimize.
Hey! This wasn't written by a sleuth of bears! It was written by Brian Kwa, who does awesome work at Loud Dog, a digital branding firm in San Francisco that helps businesses express themselves authentically via identities, websites, and marketing collateral.
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