Thanks to the introduction of mobile web-browsing devices in recent years, the online realm is more varied than ever before, and the typical web user experience has changed dramatically. What was once a routine of sitting at a fixed distance from a screen and clicking with a mouse has become an experience of lounging while tapping a finger on a screen or walking while swiping away at a phone’s surface. Mobile devices have surely had an impact on the way we use and enjoy the Internet, so it only follows that these devices have influenced web design in similarly dramatic ways. Here are a few ways that mobile devices have transformed the way we approach web design today.
Responsive Website Designs
Mobile devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small 4-inch screen phones to large 10-inch screen tablets. And these devices display things in a vertical format or a horizontal one. All of this means that web designers have had to come up with ways to optimize a website’s layout for mobile access. Web designers now work with responsive website designs that adapt to the needs of users and the devices they’re using. No room for absolute measures here.
Fewer Hover Dependent Features
Websites of the past have relied on features that involve hovering a cursor over a particular part of the screen in order to produce a particular effect. Many modern websites still make use of these features, in fact, but websites optimized for mobile devices must be designed with finger tapping and swiping in mind. There is no hovering of a cursor with a mobile device. This means that menus must be designed to display fully with the tap of a finger on mobile devices and that a web user should be able to access a full gallery of photos with just a few swipes to the left or right.
Larger Click Areas
On a similar note, mobile-friendly websites must feature buttons that are easy for fingers to tap without accidentally activating nearby items, calling for a much more clickable area for buttons than what a small cursor requires.
Swiping seems to be much more efficient than its computer-based counterpart of scrolling. Mobile device users are notorious for their ability to mindlessly scroll down through web pages insanely quickly, and the vertical format in which mobile device users often view these pages means that web pages can be longer than ever before. Many websites of today exhibit a design that involves scrolling down continually to view all of the content (rather than clicking around), often separating sections of content with blocks of color or alternations of photos and text to keep content organized.
The Death of Flash and the Rise of HTML5
Adobe confirmed it back in 2011 when it reaffirmed its commitment to pushing HTML5: Flash for mobile devices is dead. The early stages of smartphone and Flash integration proved that Flash was not as well suited for phones and tablets as HTML5 is (and will be) when it comes to displaying browser content.
Minimal Text Input
Mobile devices may involve easier text input now than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that mobile device users necessarily enjoy entering long strings of text. When web designers are optimizing a website for mobile, they keep in mind that visitors to the site will want to refrain from the cumbersome task of entering text as much as possible.