Screen Resolutions: Adjusting Websites for Mobile Platforms

Websites are viewed on different types of platforms and browsers, but with the mobile industry boost and recently-launched iPad in addition to the popularity of the iPhone 4 (and rumors of Verizon’s potential alliance with Apple), the display of one’s website is becoming increasingly more important in website design.

A whopping ninety six percent of the Internet users commonly use a screen resolution of 1024 by 768 or higher screen. Do the remaining 4% count? And how about the ones who use their mobiles for many of their online activities, a number that is sure to increase as more and more mobile devices become web-equipped and over-the-air speeds increase? The short answer is to always design a web site having the smallest screen resolution the target audience might use in mind.

Making this particular concession will ensure an enhanced online experience even for those browsing on small screens, without having them scroll/slide up and down and left and right. It will improve user experience and create an experience that can be enjoyed across the board. As an extra tip, you should consider your design with extra margins so that the text will spread evenly throughout the screen without the need to scroll or swipe to read the text from line to line (Of course, double check this on your own device!)

A major problem with poorly made web sites is inconsistency, which is easily spotted when browsing from a mobile device. Making the most of a 960 by 640 (best case scenario) pixel resolution means having no useless visual interferences — no clutter, no harassing banners, no weird looking or too many different fonts — between user and content. Simplicity is important here, and ignoring aesthetics and considering speed, mobile users require simplicity. Enhanced text and design means that users on mobile devices will have difficulty accessing and enjoying your content, so keep it basic.

Having different colored backgrounds for some pages or new color themes for different sections is also distracting. Having different navigational features on each page is confusing and disorienting. The appearance of unity and consistency is very important and will always make the difference in the numbers of people visiting a website from a large array of platforms.

Keep the navigation menu simple both in use and appearance. Make it so that the mobile users are able to reach any page with no more than a couple of clicks/taps away from the main page. Whenever and wherever you can, save steps and make information really obvious. Never heard of someone complaining that they found something online too quickly, have you?

In the long run, it all comes down to knowing the main things people want to do/are looking for on your website and making those easily accessible from every platform. Beyond that, it’s about testing, retesting, and ensuring that you keep it simple. Better yet, you might be smart to consider a completely dedicated mobile design that doesn’t impact or impose on your current web design. After all, a really brilliant design probably might not work on a mobile device. Giving your users a stellar mobile experience and topping that off with an even better full-screened experience is bound to benefit you as the web provider and your visitors.

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