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10 ‘Tried And Tested’ Practices For Smooth Navigation On Mobile Websites

It’s the Smartphone-age and the number of people accessing internet from smartphones, touch pads is increasing tremendously. For any business whether online or offline, a mobile-friendly website is needed the most.

10 ‘Tried And Tested’ Practices For Smooth Navigation On Mobile Websites

Having a mobile-friendly website means laying the foundation stone for a strong web presence. Whereas, lacking a mobile-friendly website means compromising on expected business growth and profit.

What’s your pick? Winning over new and active customers and expanded business growth? If yes, then think the smart way and make your website easily accessible by not just the desktop or laptop users, but also the smartphone and touch pad users as well.

If you have decided about the smartphone-compatible website or already have a mobile web presence, you should know the areas of a mobile website that need attention. Navigation comes at top of the list. Smartphones are no more small screens, the screen sizes are going bigger and bigger with time. The touch system of smartphones needs friendly website navigation for better browsing. A single wrong touch can annoy the user and hence leads to website switching. Do you want that? “NO”! Read below to know how to make the mobile website navigation user-friendly. Before going towards the main topic, have a glimpse of some interesting mobile facts from some reliable resources!

  • 58% of all US consumers own a smartphone.
  • Over 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices.
  • Global mobile traffic now accounts for 15% of all Internet traffic.
  • No one screen size has more than 20% of the market share.
  • 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
  • 60% of mobile shoppers use their smartphones while in a store, and another 50% while on their way to a store.
  • Tablet users spend 50% more than PC users.
  • Mobile-based searches make up one quarter of all searches.

The above-mentioned stats reveal clearly where the world wide web is going. The smartphone revolution is taking everything in its folds. A shift from desktops and laptops to mobile devices is forcing website owners and web designers to become customer-friendly, particularly while presenting a business image. It’s not just about the mode of web access that is changing, but the needs of site users are also changing. People are becoming more focused while accessing internet using mobile devices. The specific tasks performed on mobile devices could be location finding, bank account inquiry, social media updates, and schedule for public transit. The use of smartphones to access internet is not just common while standing in long queues, but also while living in home comforts.

Smartphones, having limited screen space put a challenge for the users as well as the website owners in the navigational area. Efficient and smooth navigation is needed to search the desired information with finger or thumb touch. Website owners and web designers need to think about:

  • Needs of the visitors
  • Possible questions coming in their minds
  • Device limitations
  • Frustrating things on the website

All these aspects are important to consider while designing a mobile website, particularly the navigation. In the lines below, you will come to know the importance of smooth navigation for mobile websites and the best practices being followed to create customer-friendly mobile website navigation. Read and implement if you want to receive good response from your site users.

Put Yourself In Site Users’ Shoes

95% users look for local information while searching on mobile devices. That’s why mobile websites should have location, contact information and hours prominently placed at the website. Observe mobile traffic analytics and find the categories being searched the most by the mobile site users. Mention the link to reach the website so that serious buyers could have a detailed look of the business at laptop or desktop.

Responsive Web Designing

Responsive Web Designing

Web designers while designing for mobile devices don’t know which device the end user is using. It puts a challenge to create user-friendly mobile websites. To resolve such a problem, the concept of responsive web design offers the way-out. Responsive web design tools, like CSS media queries, help in resolving the problems like location, size, and content. Designing a responsive website or upgrading an existing website for mobile devices need following the best practices to make smooth navigation. Few best practices, particularly to design menus for small screens, are mentioned in the lines below!

1. Keep The Menu Tabs Minimum

The maximum number of menu buttons should be 5. If it works, nested buttons could be added. However, it could become trickier if you are upgrading an existing desktop site, having long navigation menus, into mobile website. For ecommerce websites, multi-level navigation is required, but never go more than two levels of navigation.

2. Minimize The Taps

Allow the mobile users to reach the desired website area with minimum number of clicks. Along with that, place the back button prominently, lacking which can frustrate the site visitors. Fewer the clicks are to reach the desired website area, more are the chances for website users to get converted.

3. Offer Scrolling Navigation

Place categories in navigation menus with care and consider the importance of each category. The most important elements should be placed at top of the navigation and list the others down. For detailed menus, scrolling may be needed at small screens of smartphones.

4. Limit The Header Height

Use bland headers and limit their height. After all, the content below the header matters the most and hit the target audiences. Site users should have a clear understanding of site navigation without any distraction.

5. Consider The Portrait View Of Website

Mobile users get the portrait view of a website instead of the landscape view. The navigation should be adapted accordingly. Offer a read down style instead of across the page. It needs minimum number of navigation categories.

6. Collapsible Navigation

Nested or collapsible menus are good for websites needing content in the menu. It’s also good for websites where more categories are expected to be added in future.

7. Decide About The Most Important Things

While deciding about the menus, think about:

  • The top important pages of your website
  • The top category pages of your website
  • Possible common actions of mobile users
  • Pages satisfying users’ needs
  • The quicker a site visitor reaches the desired location, the better it is. Guide them to a direct path through clear call to actions.
8. Make Navigation Clear To Understand

The menu should be written in clear to understand language. The visitor should understand in which direction they should go. If using symbols, make them intuitive for better understanding at the visitors’ end. Conventional symbols like + or > can be used to tell visitors there are more menu options to explore.

9. Improve User Experience With Fonts And Contrast

Avoid using tiny text that users have to zoomin to view. Search engines, like Google and Bing, don’t consider tiny text as user-friendly approach. Taller font with extra space between letters can be a better choice. Arial, Courier, Times New Roman are the common font styles used at mobile websites. Do consider the style guide of your brand while deciding about the font style and size. Whatever style and size you use at a mobile website, it should help reading the text without zooming.

10. Create Websites For Touch-Based Devices

An average finger requires 44 pixels for precise clicking. It’s due to the finger size and the precision needed for touch screen. Less than 40 pixels target results in poor navigation. As it’s not easier for users to hit the touch mark precisely most of the times, so a navigation feedback is needed. This feedback could be in the form of color change, font change, or any other visual cue. Such a feedback could help the users in gaining the confidence of picking the right item.

For multi-tier navigation, the dropdowns shouldn’t be mouse over, but touch to activate. For desktops, hovering navigation works the best, but for mobile users, it’s troublesome.

Use of images and graphic buttons for navigation is also common. It takes visitors to the right direction and hence a big appeal at the home page of a mobile website. Although, graphical buttons are good to use, but avoid using them as primary navigation at the web page’s bottom.

Give your site users a consistent look and feel of your website on multiple devices. The visual theme and font should be consistent for mobile as well as desktop sites. However, the navigation should be different for both mobile and desktop sites.

Make it sure that your mobile website navigation helps the site users in accomplishing the tasks needed at the website. Use the content at the mobile website as per users’ needs.

How To Optimize Touch-screens And Tiny Buttons?

How To Optimize Touch-screens And Tiny Buttons?

Web designers see a new challenge to create websites for touch screens and small buttons. There is less precision involved while hitting the desired button and more are the chances the user gets frustrated after hitting the wrong way. It could be coped well by using buttons instead of links and giving more space around the menu buttons or links. A larger navigation button helps the touch-screen users in smooth navigation. Here are given some tips to optimize the touch-screens and tabs:

  • Know the main purpose of site users behind visiting the website and place the menu bar at top of the web page or at the bottom. For content-based websites, menu bar can be placed at the bottom of the web page.
  • You can hide the menu bar if there is more space needed for content. Full menu appears when being tapped.
  • The menu link could be placed at top of the screen whereas the navigation button could be added at the bottom.
  • Keep the menu bar short and wide. It helps mentioning the longer category titles with ease.
  • Reduce the header image size or use logo instead for more navigation space.
  • Show consistency in the style, typography, and color of the navigation buttons.
  • Avoid using larger images and graphics.
  • Use short text at menu buttons and the category titles. A good alternative is using a stackable menu.
  • Mention the top items most of the users want to see on the home page.

What To Avoid For Mobile Navigation Optimization?

Mobile users don’t like more choices among buttons to choose from. To avoid their frustration, don’t go for the following things:

  • Don’t offer them more choices to pick one from
  • A big no for horizontal scrolling
  • Avoid hovering
  • Avoid slider menus
  • Simplification doesn’t mean to make the site visitor getting bored.
  • Be intuitive in navigation
  • Provide an easy and quick view of information needed

Conclusion:

For mobile navigation, web designers are following several approaches and new ones are constantly being evolved. As the sites are different, so are the needs of the site users, and hence the navigation should be designed accordingly. Users visiting a news website want headlines and those of web-based businesses need product information or contact information. Tailored navigation as per users’ demands is the way to make any website successful.

Although the navigational elements are different for mobile websites and desktop sites, but what needed the most is to satisfactorily answer the questions of the site users when they visit a website. Smooth navigation ensures quick and right answers to the site users. Meeting the needs of the site users means inviting them to visit the website again and again. Happy and satisfied customers will come again to the website.

Keep optimizing your mobile website and its navigation on continuous basis to appeal to the site users.

Being a web designer, what kind of navigation you will prefer for your mobile website? Share in the comments below!

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