Small screens are becoming big business in relation to overall web traffic. Last quarter over 40% of organic searches were made on mobile devices, according to digital marketing agency RKG, and Cnet reports that 22% of all transactions on Cyber Monday were also made via mobiles. It’s fair to say then that mobile users now expect websites to be prioritised for their devices. Therefore, tailoring your site’s navigation accordingly is essential for the mobile-using market.
Prioritise and simplify
Only 33% of mobile users make it past the first page of a mobile site: people don’t want to visit several pages to find what they want. Place the most important information on the opening page and make it as easy as possible to reach subsequent pages. The human finger is the most commonly used input device for smartphones and tablets, so clearly marked buttons are preferable to hyperlinks in a body of text or smaller hotspots.
Cut down on fancy graphics
Page loading time is another big issue. When asked about frustrating mobile web experiences, two-thirds of smartphone users cited sites that are slow to load. 60% of tablet users expected to wait less than three seconds to get to a site and 64% of smartphone users wanted a website to load within four seconds. Of course you want your mobile site to look great but consider whether your images are really essential. Animations, auto-play videos and audio can all add to load times. It’s generally best to steer clear of Flash altogether as this is not supported by Apple.
Use site search
A site search box can be great if you have a range of products or content. This should be prominently displayed and clearly recognisable. This can allow users to find a particular product or piece of content without flicking through numerous pages. An additional search box and/or a “Home” button on the search results and individual product pages can also make life easier for your visitors. For a really slick search function, consider using an auto-complete feature that offers suggestions based on the first few letters entered.
Consider a separate navigation page
A simple and elegant solution adopted by New Media Campaigns (NMC) for their YourTown CMS mobile website design is the use of a “Navigation” link at the top right hand corner of each page. Tap it and the page flicks upwards to reveal a dedicated navigation screen. From here you can easily choose your destination or click “Return to site” to return to the current page.
Mobile internet users are frequently looking to complete a task (rather than simply surfing) – often related to a business or service close to where they are. You can use GPS technology to provide relevant information and results based on a smartphone user’s current location. The Loews Hotels chain’s mobile site uses locational technology to highlight and suggest the hotel nearest to your current location. It also provides a good example of other navigational features and a crisp, clean design.
A brief horizontal menu at the top of the screen provides easy links to the most important functions, plus there’s a clickable contact number, a live chat button, a contacts button and underneath are a number of further options. Making your website’s navigation mobile friendly is all about making the most important information and options easily accessible. It might involve a rethink and a redesign of your main desktop website. But with mobile usage only set to rise further, it can be worth all the effort.
*Picture credits: Tashatuvango / Shutterstock.com