Building Websites for the Multi-Screen Consumer
On any given day, I personally look at no less than two or three different sized screens. On work days, that number is more like four or five. What I am realizing now is that it isn’t something that is unique to my job or me at all. Multiple screen usage is becoming the norm and that means that visitors to your site expect an experience that supports all screens.
Why It’s Important
Consumers today are constantly connected, moving between devices — from tablet to laptop to desktop to smartphone — throughout their day.” – Google
People are using whatever device is closest to them and they expect your website to work. In addition, smartphone adoption has passed 61% in the U.S. For most people, this basically means that we are never without mobile devices, so the importance of embracing a mobile approach that is suitable for your business is of the utmost importance.
Which Technology is Right for Your Site?
You know that your business needs to have a multi-screen plan for its website, but how do you choose which technology to implement? In one of my previous articles, The Mobile Web: Why Having a Mobile Website is Important for your Business, I talk about the different types of mobile websites. One of those types, Responsive, is geared much more for a multi-screen experience. With the responsive approach, content literally responds and formats itself to accommodate the viewer’s screen. It’s not always the right choice, but it is the most flexible.
Designing across Screens
If you currently don’t have a multi-screen approach to your website and are considering a re-design, here are some tips for designing across screens.
Do: Pick the right font
Picking a font that is legible and easy to read is a must. Your base font size should be no less than 12 pixels, otherwise, users will have a hard time reading your site content.
Don’t: Use mouse-overs or pop ups
In order to maintain a consistent experience across devices, it is important to avoid interaction techniques that don’t work across devices. Hover effects requiring a mouse such as color changes and animation, won’t work on a touch screen device. As far as pop-ups go, people hate them on desktop computers, so I think it is safe to assume they will feel the same way about them on other devices.
Do: Be touch-friendly
On a desktop, our pointer is much more accurate than on a small screen, so make sure you are creating targets that are large enough to avoid click mistakes, which are a really easy way to annoy a mobile user.
Don’t: Overload users
The goal is to provide a similar experience to users regardless of device, that doesn’t mean include every piece of content on your site, but smaller. It also doesn’t mean you should slash your content, what it does mean is that you should probably restructure content to accommodate mobile and tablet users. Users want to see your content, especially if it is engaging, like photos or videos.
Do: Make images expandable
Visitors to your site want to view your content. If you are an eCommerce site, people want to see the product they are buying. Include high-quality close-ups of products.
Don’t: Make users pinch to zoom
Nothing makes mobile users more frustrated than having to pinch and zoom to view content, plus, it makes it very easy for visitors to miss key messaging and calls-to-actions.
Do: Make site search visible
Allowing visitors to easily search your site is very important, especially if you are selling products. Regardless of a viewer’s screen size, your search should be placed near the top of your homepage.
Don’t: make it difficult for users to convert on another device
Because some users don’t feel as comfortable converting on mobile devices it is important to give them a way to complete the conversion on a different device. A good example is a job search website that allows users to email job posts that they are interested in for themselves at a later date.
Moving forward, as we talk about addressing the needs of our users we can no longer have just a mobile strategy. Now a multi-screen strategy is a must for a successful web presence. It is important to be mindful of many different factors when you start to come up with your multi-screen strategy. If you have questions or would like to start exploring what a multi-screen strategy would look like for your business, we would love to partner with you and start working through the process. Give us a call or shoot us a line, at any time.