5 ways mobile technology has changed website design for good

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Mobile technology has been at our finger tips for a number of years now. We’re all used to browsing, sharing and researching products on our phones or tablets. Many of us multitask relaxing in front of the telly whilst simultaneously shopping.  Most of our clients are reporting as much as 30% of their traffic is from a mobile device (not including tablet).
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The art of website design has changed forever and with it we’re noticing some big changes in website design trends.  Here are my top 5.

1 – longer pages. As a website designer I have never really understood the fascination with the mysterious “fold” – but not so long ago was common practice try and design small website pages that didn’t rely on users having to scroll down. Brands didn’t want their logo to scroll off the page and worried (unnecessarily in my opinion) that users didn’t know how to use a mouse.  Whiz forwards to 2014 and long scrolling pages are very much in vogue. Some websites will even just make your page longer and longer loading more content as you scroll down. Longer website pages make great portfolio pages and users are often happier to scroll than reload a new page.

2 – ditch the thumbnails.  I do believe I am seeing the beginning of the end for the thumbnail. Small clickable thumbnails pictures that change the main image became a standard way to display an image gallery (possibly because of the need to keep content above the fold!?) often used for portfolio pages and product displays on eCommerce websites.  Smaller devices make the thumbnail tricky to use and the smaller screen just wants to display the image in it’s full glory, this combined with the longer pages and what we are seeing now is an increase on large format images displayed on nice longer pages with no thumbnail required.

3 – Lose that sidebar! A couple of years ago it was common to use two or three columns in website design. Perhaps a column for the side menu, a larger middle columns for the content and then the third on the side for promotions/quick links.  Organising content into columns allowed for lots of content to display on the screen (above the fold!).  Thankfully today the trend is for 100% width websites displayed centrally for maximum impact on your mobile designed organically around the content.

4 – Centralise everything. This website design trend has been and gone and now it is definitely back again.  The freedom of not having to design around sidebars and a requirement to deliver a uniformed experience across devices means that we’re seeing more websites with content and text centralised. And it’s not just the text. Look at company logos. They are also shifting to the middle of the screen.  It just looks smart and it works.

5 – No more website backgrounds. Over the years I must have had literally hundreds of conversations about “website backgrounds”  and I am relieved to see this little guy die. So much concern has been miss-placed on what should be displayed behind the website (rainbows/advertising/important system messages etc) when all along it’s really the content of the website that mattered the most.  Mobile phones and tablets remove the background image and simply zoom to the website page.

Because we’re no longer obsessed with short pages designers are free to create websites with sensible readable fonts, chunky icons and images displayed in their full glory.  It seems an odd observations but now that screens are smaller it almost feels as if we have more space to design for.

If you would like discuss the merits of getting your business mobile we’d love to hear from you. After all, a quick look through your website stats is likely to highlight the number of mobile visitors are higher than you think!

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