Minimizing Navigation Requirements: Streamlining Sites For Mobile Users


Making your mobile website more efficient for users means more than making sure the links are big enough for them to select with their fingers on a small mobile screen. In fact, mobile site designs have to take into consideration elements as obscure as the amount of battery power at any given part of the page is likely to consume. Believe it or not, studies have shown that certain websites drain batteries much more than others. That particular concern might be a bit too esoteric for somebody who just wants to contract a website, but understanding the basics of how mobile sites are made more efficient can go a long way toward helping you to create a good one.

Small Images
Remember that most mobile devices will be hooking up over networks that are much  slower than the connection you have in your house. Whether it’s on a 3G or a 4G network, a mobile device is going to load images, multimedia and other larger sized content much more slowly than will a desktop computer with a broadband connection.

Scale down the image sizes on your mobile site or, if possible, minimize the use of images altogether. Image heavy websites require more bandwidth and, when they’re being loaded onto a mobile device, rendering such websites does consume more battery power. Ideally, somebody visiting the mobile version of your website should be able to pull up the page very quickly and get where they want to go without having to wait for large images to load, which aren’t really impressive on small screens, anyway.

Simple Navigation
If you have a separate mobile website, it’s likely that users visiting it will be doing so for a specific purpose. Many mobile users, of course, will be visiting your website when they’re trying to figure out where your brick-and-mortar location is. Make this easy for them. Consider what your visitors using mobile devices will be looking for and make certain that navigation links to those sections of your site are accessible right from the homepage. The less they have to page through your site the happier they will be.

Additionally, make sure that all of your navigation menu items make it very clear where they lead. Using the location example again, you would want to make certain that your users would be presented with a link that said something along the lines of “our location”, so that they could tap that link and immediately get where they want to go.

Menu Size
If you have a very dense and detailed regular site, you may want to consider paring it down to the most important elements for your mobile version. Remember that, if you have drop-down menus on your site, they’re going to expand in a way that might make it difficult to navigate them on a mobile device. Talk to your web designer about how you might have to accommodate mobile device users navigating your site so that they can give you some tips to make the process easier.

A couple of the problems that mobile device users have are pop-up windows that appear as overlays and navigation menus that expand so much that they can no longer exit them or access the entire menu or screen. Make sure your mobile site design takes this into consideration. When people visit your website on a smartphone with a small screen, the last thing they want to do is spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get an annoying window that popped up to close. Experiment with your mobile site if you have one and see if there’s anything about it that makes it difficult to navigate or use.

Compact and easily navigated sites can improve the user experience for anyone who views your site on a mobile device. Keep this in mind and you’ll avoid frustrating those users who visit your domain on smartphones, tablet computers and other devices that have touchscreen interfaces and smaller viewing areas.

Matt Dandurand is the CEO of, offering web design in Los Angeles, CA.

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