by Alec Sibilia
As a designer, working with marketers can be… well, kind of a pain. But you’re not all bad. In fact, working with a great marketer can really turn out some amazing products. So don’t look at your designer simply as someone who’s there to give your website a nice polished look. They know how to cater to your users, and shape users’ reactions as well as their course of action. Ultimately, a good designer should be able to seamlessly convey your company’s vision to your users. Great things can happen when marketers and designers work in unison.
In the case of designing a mobile website, designers have to consider a few new issues when creating a user case study. The first issue to consider is Mobility. Mobility is something that is unique to smartphone and tablet users. While desktop users don’t necessarily need to be in front of their desks to view your site, they’re probably not walking down the street with their laptops either. So what does this mean for your designer? It means that mobile users don’t necessarily have 100% of their focus on your site.
Beyond Mobility, designers also need to consider the scale at which they are designing. There’s much less real estate to work with, so it’s important for them to simplify the design down to the bare essentials without making the design feel as though it’s lacking. Simplicity is something every designer strives to perfect, and it’s no easy task (especially with a marketer insisting on 3 separate “Call Now!” buttons – it’s okay, we understand).
With all of this in mind, here’s what your designer needs to know in order to create a beautiful, simple, and compelling mobile site.
1. Keep your content streamlined.
Use only the most important information, leave out the extraneous. In many cases, mobile users aren’t entirely focused on your site, so you need to prioritize; this way users can continue doing what they’re doing without having to stop and dig. Now, I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Yeah, well sometimes I use my smartphone while I’m sitting on my couch watching TV.” And the solution for these “energetically challenged” users is easy – add a link to the full site at the bottom of the page.
2. Leave the design work to the designer.
I know I’ve been advocating that a designer is more than just a web site glossifier, when it comes down to it, your designer has probably taken classes on color theory and typography, so it may be best to respect their design perspective. That being said, there’s always two sides to the spectrum. There’s always going to be that designer who likes 8pt type because it makes beautiful blocks of text, and there’s going to be a marketer who thinks you won’t even notice the text unless it’s IN BIG BOLD RED TYPE. Work with your designer to find the middle ground here. While they know how to make your site look beautiful and achieve appropriate levels of hierarchy, you should be the one to tell them which page elements deserve the most emphasis through that hierarchy (and which deserve the least).
3. Provide your designer with data on user behavior.
Your designer is a user experience specialist. It’s your job to tell them what kind of users are trafficking your site so that they can built user case studies and accommodate the design accordingly. Some quick and easy UX improvements for any mobile website include click-to-call and click-to-email links and maps integration. Don’t make the user open a new native app to get in touch with you or find out where you’re located. Build this functionality into the site and take some minor annoyances out of the user’s life. It’s little details like this that users have come to expect. Without this functionality, your site (and your brand) looks like a dinosaur. In keeping up with tech and design trends, you subliminally remind your users that you are modern, professional, and on the industry forefront.
Long story short, trust your designers. They were trained for this, you pay them for this. Your designer is your frontline; the first real interaction between your customer and your brand. So show your designer some love. Work with them and create something great.