Best Practices for Creating a Responsive Mobile Web Design

By CIOReview | Thursday, July 28, 2016
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The last few years have witnessed a drastic change in the web trend, with desktop usage falling from 90 percent to 60 while mobile usage climbing as high as 40 percent. Unquestionably, this technological surge keeps continuing and is expected to outclass almost every desktop activity in the days ahead. Therefore, the design strategy for desktop and mobile devices should be weighed on an equal scale to be in consonance with the changing user perception of interface design.

“The world is going to be responsive and it’s inevitable,” says Peter Sheldon, Principal Analyst at Gartner Research Inc. Much evidently, responsive design practices combined with multi-device friendly approach have received wide acceptance in the web development arena, which validates Sheldon’s statement. According to experts, the reduced probability of common errors is one of the reasons why responsive designs continue to gain momentum. Of the many benefits associated with responsive web designs, a few to name would be improved indexing properties, easy maintenance and error free coding. Here’s a closer look at some of the best practices in mobile web design:

Embracing the minimalistic approach

In the hustle and bustle of life, people check their mails, messages, and social media updates on the go. This transition from desktop to mobile web usage has peaked up especially due to the effortlessness involved in the handling of mobile devices. So, mobile web designing requires developers to keep the clutter to minimum as extraneous features may render the browsing tedious and uninteresting. For example, a swipe or a horizontal scroll for navigating to the next page may not surely be picked up by every user equally.

It is here that minimalism comes into play. Downsizing and simplifying the content to include the essentials yet not compromising with the aesthetics is what’s considered as a minimalistic design. To achieve the concept, web designers must use a wireframe tool for better planning of the layout but should always ensure that they don’t start wireframing without listing out the key components of the design.

Creating a fluid width layout

With the multitude of device models that come in a variety of dimensions, designing for the mobile is never an easy task. However, designing for a particular dimension is not the choicest approach either, such as creating a 320 pixel breakpoint. With common device widths including 176, 240, 320, 480 and landscape orientation, keeping a fluid layout is ideal. Fluid layouts use percentage-based sizing to make the width of components adapt to the screens on which they are viewed—a design equivalent of the ‘liquid layout’ for web.

A meticulous care in designing elements

Creating a minimalistic design may seem intricate but it can be profusely innovative if properly worked out. Designing the elements play a crucial role and the most important of it is breathing space. Without a well balanced white space, a minimal look is unattainable. It is the actual spacing between various components of the design, be it sections of the page or the space between fonts and images. A well-utilized negative space gives a clean and uncluttered feel to the entire layout.

Typography, balance, and alignment of elements also give the desired minimal effect. With flat designs it is easier to find contents as different elements can be distinguished without a hitch. Also, it provides increased readability and moulds the positive space for better user interactions.

Avoid needless images

When it comes to designing for mobile web, size and speed are the key factors of consideration. Avoid using large sized images to achieve fancy effects as it will have a negative impact on the site performance. It is always better to achieve the desired effects using CSS even though some old browsers may not support the same. According to specialists the fewer special effects using images on a website the faster it loads on a browser.

Leveraging mobile functionalities

Tap to call, slide to unlock and the like are features that are limited only to mobile devices. Developers should maximize the use of such features to make the mobile experience even better. For example, enabling the GPS functions on a website to offer location specific services would be an add-on. This is the only area in mobile web development where both front end and back end designers should necessarily coordinate to achieve optimal results.

The decision making process

A responsive web design is only a fragment of the larger marketing strategy that summarizes every aspect of brand projection. Whether an organization needs a responsive design or not is the most important question to be asked. Responsive design is not purely the display facet of a website; rather it deals with methods to prioritize the central elements of content for each environment.

Apart from designers and developers, companies should also invite stakeholders to join the discussions on content display and screen selections. According to Peter Sheldon, businesses together with the content owners should determine the breakpoints for display on desktop and mobile devices.