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10 Essential Elements for Mobile User Experience

Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
Woman sitting on couch looking at smartphone with contemplative look on her face
We’re all using our phones all the time—nearly 50% of people in the United States spend between 5 to 6 hours a day on their phones. Considering this, it’s easy to see why it’s crucial to optimize the user experience of your website for mobile devices.

It’s important to provide a positive experience to users who access your site using a mobile device. If you fail to do so, they’ll simply leave and you’ll likely lose them forever. Thankfully, with the right website builder like Wix or Network Solutions, that’s not difficult to do, especially if you take some basic design principles into consideration.

In this article, we’ll go through 10 essential elements that can help you build a website that is visually appealing and easy to navigate on a mobile device.

1. Responsive Design

To be mobile-friendly, your website needs to be responsive or, in other words, adapt to different screen sizes automatically. This helps visitors navigate your website regardless of the device they’re using and is key for a positive user experience. In fact, if you're building a website that contains blog posts, responsiveness really helps with SEO too.

The vast majority of themes featured on modern website builders are built with mobile user experience in mind, but make sure to double-check.

2. Information Architecture

Information architecture refers to how information is organized on your website. When deciding on the structure of your website, there are a few best practices to consider:

  • Make key information easy to find
  • Make the logic of your website instantly obvious
  • Use easy-to-understand categories
  • Use the same terms and language as your audience
  • Use the simplest possible structure for your content

As for the last point, a good rule of thumb is to use a flat structure for simpler websites and a more siloed structure for websites with a large number of pages or products. The flatter, the better, but you’ll need to adapt it if you have a lot of content.

3. Navigation

If users cannot figure out how to get from A to B and achieve their goal (find specific information, order a product, get in touch with you, download a file, etc.), they’ll simply leave and go to another website.

Make sure your navigation menu is well-adapted to mobile devices. When opened, it should fit on the user’s screen without scrolling and be neatly tucked away when closed. This is usually achieved by using a ≡ symbol, which is easy to recognize.

4. Uniformity and Consistency

Uniformity and consistency are key for a positive mobile user experience, as they help users understand your website and make everything predictable and easy to find.

To achieve uniformity and consistency, use the same design structure, fonts, colors, and graphic elements on every page. Make all pages of the same type consistent and keep key elements identical throughout your website.

For example:

  • Use an identical structure for all product pages
  • Make forms predictable (i.e., don’t change the order of fields)
  • Use the same content structure for case studies, testimonials, and reviews
  • Use buttons of the same size and color
  • Format all blog content in the same way for all articles

5. Context and Environment

Users can access content on their phones from anywhere in all kinds of situations, and this will impact their experience. Unfortunately, you cannot predict the context of their interaction with any degree of reliability.

Is the user arguing with their spouse while trying to find information on your website? Are they waiting for the bus? Are they comfortably seated on the couch? Are they walking on the street?

You have no way of knowing. What you can do is optimize your website for different kinds of contexts and environments in the following ways:

  • Use an intuitive and easy-to-navigate design theme
  • Highlight key information
  • Use the user’s location to show them more relevant content
  • Make the content easy to scan
  • Simplify forms and make them easy to fill in with one hand

6. Loading Speed

The many visitors who use their mobile devices expect information to load very quickly, or else they’ll abandon the website and go somewhere else.

Here are some things you can do to optimize loading speed for mobile devices:

  • Use a simple design
  • Enable image compression
  • Limit the use of custom fonts
  • Activate browser caching
  • Reduce the number of redirects

This is crucial for image-heavy websites, like those of photographers or visual artists.

7. Readability

There’s nothing more annoying than being unable to read text on a mobile website because it is too small, unstructured, or has an impractical font color.

Make sure all content displays correctly and that font sizes are always large enough. Here are some other ideas on how to improve readability:

  • Use clean, simple fonts
  • Use bulleted lists (like this one!)
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Separate key information by using headings or bold text

8. Form Usability

If your website has any forms on it, they need to be optimized for mobile to guarantee a good user experience. Users should be able to fill in your forms easily and with one hand.

Here are some important rules to follow:

  • Request as little information as possible using the minimum amount of fields
  • Don’t ask users for the same information twice
  • Use clear action buttons that won’t mislead the user
  • Make buttons easy to click
  • Avoid dropdown menus when possible

9. Button and Link Design

Buttons, links, and menu sections need to be easy to click on a small screen. This helps users navigate through your website easily and keeps them from pressing other buttons by mistake.

For this, you need to:

  • Make buttons large enough
  • Use consistent design for all buttons
  • Make buttons predictable and easy to locate
  • Make buttons look clickable by using a color different to your background

10. Testing

The last crucial element for a positive mobile user experience that is often overlooked is testing. Users will use all kinds of devices, and while you cannot realistically test for all of them, you can at least try out a few to make sure you’re providing a consistent user experience.

Don’t only rely on the test function of a desktop browser. Although helpful, it’s just a virtual simulation and not a real test. Test your website on multiple real mobile devices.

The best web design companies will do that for you, but you can use old mobile phones or ask employees, friends, and family members to help you out if you’re designing your website with a website builder. Plus, another pair of eyes on your website may spot problems you haven’t noticed yourself.

Providing a Positive Mobile User Experience Is Crucial

Providing a consistently positive user experience across all devices is crucial for website owners. After all, nearly 60% of global web traffic comes from mobile. You should cater to mobile users, or you risk losing a big chunk of your visitors.

There are a number of key elements you need to consider when optimizing your website for mobile use, such as readability, consistency, navigation, and more. If you take these into account, you’ll significantly improve your website's performance across different devices and increase conversions.

Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
As a Top10 writer, Milena Alexandrova crafts content to help people make tech-related decisions and promote their businesses. She has a master's degree in economics and social sciences from Pantheon-Sorbonne. Milena has a strong background both in marketing and as a legal and technical consultant and has contributed to services like TestGorilla, Zelt, and LeadPost.