Remember the moment when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone? It was exciting… but we don’t think anyone could have predicted the huge drive towards mobile devices that occurred over the following five years. Now, huge proportions of web traffic are from smartphones and mobile devices, and more and more people are using them every day to do things that would normally have only ever been attributed to desktop/laptop machines.
The Shift to the Responsive Web
With this ever-increasing move towards a mobile world arises a fair few issues. Initially, people were happy ‘pinching and zooming’ in on standard web pages, honing in on content and clicking tiny text-based links… however another change has happened – the responsive web.
Many, many website owners, businesses and developers alike are embracing responsive websites and are experimenting more and more on enhancing the user experience on mobile devices.
The two main hurdles that have been overcome and are evolving every day are simple in essence; adaptable website designs that scale down and change dependent on the size of the screen, and making the experience more ‘gesture’ driven and easy, rather than having to swipe the ends of your fingers off trying to find the right content.
Responsive websites are common now. Websites now have the ability to shuffle, re-style, hide or show content depending on the type of device being used – this is especially useful in guiding users to content or ‘call to actions’ without making the content hard to find.
UX is more important than ever
Now, even though It’s also important to make sure that websites adapt to the device, it’s also important to make sure the usability of the website changes to.
You’ve got to think of it from the user’s point of view – what action or function is triggered when the user taps button, link or other item? How fast does the function appear or animate the screen? is it on a timer, or will an extra button be required to let the user exit back?
The huge increase in the use of touch-driven and gesture-orientated devices changes the way we design interaction and how the user fits into the overall picture. We can no longer thing just in terms of design. We have to take time, animation and usability into consideration to.
If you’re a smartphone app developer, or work on responsive websites, you’ve probably noticed that presenting wireframes and concepts to clients is difficult. You can’t fully see how things can be touched, held, dragged or swept. It’s important to try prototyping tools such as Invision or Pop to help bring those concepts alive. The last thing you want is to have to go back and change multiple items during development, just because certain things weren’t considered at the concept stage.
Remember, trial and error is key, and planning is essential.
[box title=”About the Author:” color=”#616161″]
Pete Campbell works for Jask Graphic Design in Birmingham as a smartphone app developer. He spends his days coding, tweaking UX and sharing his best practice tips across the web.