design

Noble Advice for that Mobile Device

How are visitors viewing my site, and why should I care?

In ye olden days, say, ten years ago, when we built a website we built a website. 'Tis no longer the case. This is a monthly graph of the percentage of visitors to my romance author site who arrive via a mobile device (tablet or phone.) Nearly half of them are viewing on a mobile device. I'll bet if I wrote YA the number would be even higher. But if I wrote women's fiction it would be somewhat lower.

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It's always going to be large, though. That's the world we're living in. You might say--so what? The first thing to know is that Google recently changed the behavior of its search algorithm to heavily favor sites that are mobile friendly. In other words, if your site is not mobile friendly, it won't turn up in search results. Disaster, right?

These days, when a client is sweating over the harmony of new home page content, I sometimes need to remind really her that she's seeing one out of a million different versions of the site. It's going to look completely different on a phone or tablet, and different again when the visitor rotates the screen.

The platform I use to build websites--Squarespace--will only build mobile friendly sites. (They are rated "Awesome" by Google on this front.) Even so, I test every site on a desktop, a laptop, an android tablet and an iPhone 5. The web platform makes different decisions about where to place content for each different screen.

There are trade-offs. I can't always fit everything into the website header that I'd like to put there. Once when we were renovating our tiny New York City kitchen, the contractor shook his head over a design element and said, "everyone is always trying to cram ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag." It wasn't an elegant expression, but I remember it often when I'm designing a website. 

Clean, crisp designs aren't just for hipsters anymore. They work! :)