categories: communication, creativity, innovation, technology
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October 15th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

10 comments (+ Add)

Tip: Design Websites for Mobile…First

A few months ago, I was visiting a local news website on my mobile phone and noticed how simple and easy it was to access the article I was trying to read. They had designed a mobile version of their website that was surprising easy to navigate and gave me just the information I needed and wanted. I say “surprisingly” because their normal website was the opposite. It is overrun with ads and has WAY TOO MUCH content.

It struck me after visiting their mobile site that we should all design our websites for mobile devices…but do it first! The constraints would force us to ask several hard questions during the design/creative process:

  • What is the most important information that a visitor to this site needs/wants to know?
  • How can I communicate information effectively with the fewest words?
  • How can I make navigating our site (in all directions) elegant?
  • What is the least amount of information that I have to require our users to give us and still make their experience valuable?

It’s a matter of making things easy, simple, and understandable for the end user.  Even if you do not have any plans to launch a mobile version of your website (though I think that you should), I think this process will help make your websites more effective.

What are some of the best sites you’ve seen designed for mobile devices? Or what sites do you wish were designed for mobile?

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Comments

there are a total of10
  1. Oct 15, 2008 at 8:53 am

    thanks for the pointers bobby. good stuff. as you stated, even if i didn’t design for mobile these are great questions to ask myself while considering my web design.

  2. Oct 15, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Great advice. I’m currently working on putting the site I’m working on into mobile, usability is key. It definitely makes you think. The New York Times site on iphone is probably the best I’ve seen, I love it.

  3. 3Joel Adamski
    Oct 15, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I agree. Technology is moving in the direction of mobility. So it show be our first hurdle. It almost seems like we are moving laterally with this type of development, remember the dial-up 800*600 days. My favorite mobile sites are; http://m.youversion.com and http://wap.nfl.com.

  4. Oct 15, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Excellent thoughts, Bobby. There are a few mobile sites that I actually prefer to use in the traditional desktop browser environment over their built-for-desktop counterpart because of the very reasons you illustrate—simplicity and efficiency.

    A few that I love to use are The New York Times, CNN, BBC, ESPN, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google Reader, YouVersion and Weather.gov.

    There are very few sites that I regularly use that do not offer a version for mobile devices. It’s not that I avoid sites that don’t offer it, it’s that the sites I use understand the importance of accessibility. Every church in the world should strategically consider each visitor to their site and offer versions that are accessible beyond common browsers, operating systems and hardware.

  5. Oct 15, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Great post! Moving ahead with getting our church’s site mobile-ready. Thanks.

  6. Oct 16, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Hey Bobby,

    Funny thing, we were just having the same conversation yesterday!

    My thoughts are: how do we make it a outreach tool rather than just another way to view the website. Is there a way to focus down on one or two objectives and do them really well.

    I’ve thought about making it more of an invitation tool/calendar or events tool. One that would make it easy and more of a tool for ministry than just reading.

    Another idea was to have some way of viraly spreading bite size video pieces throughout your mobile address book via SMS or MMS which would feel more personal from the invitee rather than from an institution.

    Rather than putting huge investment on the front end can we just make it easy for people to connect with a great message.

  7. Oct 16, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I have an iPhone and I know first-hand why it is like to visit a site and after 2 minutes of trying to navigate, promise to never visit the site via phone ever again. I think this is great insight for all web developers to consider mobile apps for their sites, especially church websites.

    Interesting post.

    THINK | CHANGE

  8. Oct 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    [...] any techie geeks.  Don’t just post every piece of information imaginable.  Bobby Gruenewald suggests that we design our mobile site first, before we do anything else.  This forces us to cut the fluff [...]

  9. Jul 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    This is a pretty good idea. I can think of plenty of sites that would be a lot better off if they just put the relevant content front and center.

  10. Mar 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    [...] Tip: Design Websites for Mobile…First [...]