Thursday, 6 December 2012

Usability Guidelines for Mobile Websites

Internet-enabled mobile devices have created a niche for themselves in the market. In the last couple of years, tablets and smartphones have become the primary choice for a high percentage of people for connecting to the Internet. There are nearly 1.5 billion mobile web users across the world, and the usage will continue to spiral upwards in the coming years. This means that if your website is a usability nightmare for mobile web users, you are losing out a so many business opportunities out there.

To ensure that your web design is user-friendly for mobile web users, a number of usability principles have to be integrated into the design. This blog contains a set of guidelines that can be followed to maintain high usability in your website design –

Know your audience

Before working on the usability of your web design, it is important to first know and understand the people who will be using it. Unless you know your users, you cannot make the site usable for them. Traditional methods like conducting online surveys and polls can help you gain valuable information about the user preferences. Moreover, web analytics and usability testing tools can also give you great insights on your target audience. When you know your audience and what they want from the website, your design and development process gets easier.

Make it accessible

Accessibility is part of usability. Unless your website is accessible, it can never be usable. When we say accessibility, it can refer to access from different devices, access from different web browsers, and the legibility of the content. So make sure that the site supports cross browser compatibility, and can adjust to different screen resolutions without hampering the legibility of the content.

Simplify the design

Simplicity is the key in web design, whether it is for desktop users or mobile web users. However, in mobile web design, the performance can greatly be improved by simplifying the design to the extent that only relevant and key elements are includes and the rest of the clutter is removed. This practice can also reduce the file size of the site, ensuring better load speed and performance.

Use colours to set distinctions

Colours can be used in mobile web design to set distinctions in the content in a compelling manner. You can easily communicate your message via different colours and guide the users on the site.

Test, always!

Unless the design has been tested from the usability point of view, you can never be too sure. So without taking any risks and relying on your instincts, conduct usability tests to ensure that your website performs smoothly on multiple devices and operating systems. Usability testing is an ongoing process because each year new devices with different screen resolutions and new OS updates are introduced.
As a general rule, always step into the shoes of your users to determine the usability level of your web design.