Why Your Mobile Web Site Stinks: A Lesson in Usability

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Anger, frustration, and bouts of hateful rage – these are the emotions most mobile website evoke. Alright, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but the reality is that most users find mobile sites inaccessible, cumbersome and awkward to use.

This is not an opinion. This is fact. According to a study done by Jakob Nielsen’s website useit.com, the average success rate of using a mobile website (versus testing on a regular desktop computer) is 59%!

Yikes. That’s not good. Having a user load up your “full” site on their mobile phone is simply not going to cut it at this point. You need to have a thought-out mobile web design.

Rookie Mistakes of Mobile Websites

Ineffective mobile sites are:

  • Too busy in their designs;
  • Too convoluted in their functionality; and
  • Not built correctly.

The Cure for Lame Mobile Websites

The solutions to these issues are easy to resolve with a team that knows how.

The answers are:

  • Form follows function;
  • Less is more; and
  • Know your build platform.

Form follows function

This is Design 101. On a mobile platform, you want to keep the branding that is developed from your main “full” site and concentrate it down to a healthy, condensed light version.

Mobile site usability depends on adherence to constraints. Some examples of this may be pixel height of buttons and viewing area of the screen. The formation of a good mobile web design will follow the function of its need on a cellular device.

Less is more

This ties in directly to the design, but it also bridges the divide between design and functionality. Keep it simple. Don’t make your user deal with awkward hovers or menus. The more you can refine down the functionality, the better it will work. Some suggestions include removing unnecessary graphics or arbitrary imagery.

Know your platform

If built properly, it will be used. Web standard compliancy still applies on mobile designs. Make sure you have a proper auto-detection script to pull in the mobile version.

You have the potential of losing 4/5ths of your users if not. And always remember: Don’t make the user work hard to get what they want.

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