UX considerations for desktop and mobile

by Anton Boshoff
Tue, 06/11/2018 - 10:08

The mobile wave has hit marketers, designers and web developers hard. Internet usage for mobile applications took over desktop with alarming speed, with almost 55 percent of people using their mobile phones for internet usage in 2014. This has left website owners and designers scrambling to catch up with providing the best user experience (UX) possible. 

Expert SEO companies understand the differences between desktop and mobile UX and know how and when best to use them. Below are some of the differences between the two and some considerations to keep in mind when looking at your UX design. 

Screen size
When we browse the internet, we are looking at a screen. And the screen size difference between a mobile phone and desktop has a significant impact on your UX. A desktop computer has a large screen, giving you more opportunity to add elements such as fixed navigation bars. Mobile screens also allow for fixed navigation by making use of a burger menu which toggles open and closed.

A mobile phone screen is much smaller and so your UX must be compressed to fit this size. You will not be able to fit as much onto the screen, but it is more interactive and you can create a sleek, minimalistic UX that consumers will enjoy. Remember to think about screen size when you are designing both a desktop and a mobile site. 

Navigation differences
We all know that mobile phones are becoming more and more popular. This is because the UX allows users to have a broader range of navigation on mobile sites. Users can swipe, poke, hold, hover and even shake their phones. These are exciting and can help to encourage consumers to use your site… after all, can you imagine how much less fun Instagram would be if you had to click instead of double-tap?

However, desktop navigation is still popular among users. Not only because the screen size is bigger but because the cursor navigation is so diverse. A cursor is as interactive as using your finger to navigate and does not have any problems of allowing you to accidentally “click” on something you did not want to. Hover text or cursor-triggered animations are easier to implement on a desktop UX and there is the option of adding more drop-down menus than can be handled by a mobile screen. 

Organising content
As any professional SEO company would know, content is king when it comes to reaching your audience. But the way this content is organised differs greatly when it comes to desktop and mobile UX. On a desktop, the content is organised in columns, which makes it easier for developers to design layouts, position texts and other user interface (UI) elements. 

When designing for mobile, the first train of thought should be how to meet the needs of mobile users. And you will need to remember that their needs will change based on the device they are using. Content for a mobile UX should be stacked vertically, making the scrolling navigation easier to use. This long scrolling method of organising content is not a bad thing, in fact, users prefer it for the smaller screen. You will have to be sure to create a website with a content organising method that can resize and work properly on mobile, tablet and desktop screens.

Interaction and situation-based design
Mobile is… well... mobile. And this is one of the major differences between mobile UX and desktop UX. Situation-based design means that you are taking into account the fact that mobile phone internet browsers are not sitting still while browsing and so their interaction with a website will change as their situation changes. 

User’s locations will vary, as will their attention span. This means that they will prefer short, simple interactions with a mobile UX. This is vastly different to a desktop interaction, which often takes longer and is used in a stationary situation. Mobile users expect to see a mobile interface when using a website, and it has to be quick loading and able to adapt to the situation they are in. Desktop UX is different because it does not require the same changes to the interaction as a mobile UX. Interaction and situation-based design can affect the usability of the site’s UX so be sure to take this into account when designing for mobile. 

Users prefer desktops for tasks that take a longer period of time, such as online purchases or updating personal details for banks or tax. This is because a desktop UX can handle more than one task at one time, as well as being able to handle more complex tasks such as filling in forms and entering sensitive data. 

Consumers use mobile for quick, in-the-moment actions (such as proving their friends wrong about Hodor’s timeline in Game of Thrones) and the functionality is more experimental than it is task-driven. Mobile phones have features such as virtual and augmented reality capabilities as well as accelerometers and gyro sensors, all of which cannot be easily used on a desktop. This means that you need to change the functionality of the UX to suit these features as well as the way in which users interact with and use their devices. 

Wrapping up
All expert SEO companies know that UX is of vital importance. You have to think of elements like screen size, navigation differences, how to organise content, the situation-based design elements and functionality. There is nothing more frustrating than a poor user experience. And if you continue to provide your consumers with a website that does not load on their mobile phone or that does not function well on desktop, you can kiss their business goodbye. Often businesses overthink their website but the solution is simple. If you want to give consumers what they want, think about what you want from a UX and… well… do that!

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