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You're doing mobile wrong

Last updated March 21, 2016

Crafting an effective website is tricky. Mobile is deceptively trickier. So why is that? It would seem simple since the screen is smaller.

Yet, web designers and companies still stuck in the "desktop first" way, putting 90% of their effort into crafting a beautiful, large screen website. Then when it comes to mobile, it's simply an afterthought—or something to check off as a necessary feature—like a contact form or the dreaded hero carousel.

What's worse: designers are selling responsive web design as the way to make your organization mobile but not really putting in the time and effort into crafting a good experience.

Features that work great on desktop but not mobile

If you've browsed around on a mobile site and you find something that doesn't quite work as well as it should, the designer probably made a desktop centric website first. Things like:

  • Hero banners / image carousels
  • Event calendars
  • Anything in a chart or table
  • Drop down menus/navigation
  • Dealer/store locators using maps

... are desktop centric features. This list just scratches the surface. There's ways to make them work better on mobile, but not until someone complains will some companies actually take action and fix the problem.

Let's take the last case—maps. Say your retail store has multiple locations in a certain area. It's easy to put the store locations on a map, and based on where the user clicks, she'll get hours and directions to that store.

The problem is, you need to be zoomed into the map pretty far—we're talking street level—to be able to see where you are. It's a bit like showing the forrest instead of the trees or the United States instead a world map—but in the case of mobile, there's no way you're going to be able to spot each tree. There's simply less real estate, yet we see distributor or store locator pages still treated the same as desktop on a mobile device.

Mobile may not be your first priority now but recent studies have shown mobile usage is expected to surpass desktop usage in the next few years. Will you be ready?

The most expensive part about responsive design is testing

How will you know your site actually works on mobile? It's actually pretty simple: you test it.

Even testing on a few random users with no connection to your company will uncover issues you didn't even know about. These customers don't even have to be your current customers or employees either. Most importantly, test your website on an actual device! Resizing your browser window is only an approximation of what it actually looks like on mobile.

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