ux challenges

3 UX Challenges on Mobile Web (and How to Solve Them)

By Kelsey McKeon

You’ve tested, you’ve researched, you’ve iterated. Now you have a beautiful and intuitive website that users love.

But it’s more likely than ever that people are accessing your site from their smartphones. Is your site ready?

Even if your company offers an app with a great interface, it’s important to keep your website optimized for the mobile web.

Mobile websites, however, come with their own set of challenges. These include:

  • Slow loading pages
  • Small space for design
  • Risk of content getting lost in the page

The good news? Peoples’ frustrations don’t change across devices. Regardless of whether they browse on mobile or desktop, most people will abandon a website that’s slow to load or consistently unreliable, according to a recent survey conducted by Clutch.

Keep reading for insight into users’ opinions about website user experience (UX), and what you can do to keep people coming back to your mobile site.

Why the Mobile Web Matters

Mobile searches overtook desktop searches back in 2015, and Clutch’s research shows that almost half (47%) of people primarily browse on a mobile device.

Mobile is your chance to make a first impression on your users, and a good mobile website UX impacts the entire user journey.

“A lot of the initial discovery is being made on mobile,” Jordan DeVries, UX Director at BraveUX, said. “The user journey starts to shift towards desktop when they move out of the discovery phase and into a collecting or planning phase. But we’re seeing this surprising ‘camel hump’ trend where the user starts on mobile, then moves to a desktop or laptop, and then returns to mobile to pull the trigger.”

Directing users to download a mobile app on your site adds another barrier to the content they came for. When people see that the content they need can only be found on a mobile app, they may choose to find that content elsewhere rather than wait for the app to download.

Mobile browsing dominates, so it’s key for any business to make sure that when a user searches for content, they have the same experience on an iPhone as they do on their laptop.

Challenge 1: Speed

Speed is crucial for mobile browsers. The accessibility of smartphones and apps cause users to expect content immediately. Clutch’s research shows that if your site loads slowly for a user, there’s a good chance that user will abandon your site for good.

Speed is also particularly challenging for designers working to balance the UX elements with the unpredictability of how and where mobile devices are used.

Designers have to anticipate the strength of users’ WiFi or data connections, the age of their devices and software, and their location to provide a customized experience.

Fancy, modern design elements on desktop and laptop browsers can slow down load time for someone trying to skim your content on the subway. Clutch’s survey shows there’s a 51% chance that a user will leave your site permanently if that happens.

What You Can Do: Test your mobile site for load speed. Testing your site on mobile in different locations can help identify any loading issues that may arise.

There are free resources that can help evaluate your site’s mobile-friendliness. Google offers Test My Site, where you can enter your URL and see how your site looks for mobile users.

Testing your site can help identify content on your site that loads slowly. Once you identify the problem, you can work with developers to speed things up.

Challenge 2: Design

Your mobile site is often the first experience a potential customer or reader has with your company. Even if you already have a beautiful, eye-catching web design on a laptop, that design may not render the same way for a mobile user.

A mobile user’s intent and priorities often change when browsing online. Using UX to anticipate their needs and clear the path to the content they want can set your website apart. Most people find a beautiful and updated design useful, but with mobile, function comes first.

Websites with too many design elements also risk loading slowly and driving users elsewhere. Design elements in a small space may also distract from the content and overwhelm people only looking for one thing.

What You Can Do: Embrace trending minimalist designs while keeping the essential elements of your brand. Use images to draw the user’s eye to the content you are trying to promote.

Make sure all elements on your page respond to the nuances of touch, and don’t use structures that will make a user have to pinch and zoom or scroll beyond a few strokes.

Striking the right balance between design and functionality is difficult on mobile devices, but with the right designers and developers, you can have a beautiful, up-to-date website that works just as well on mobile devices as it does on laptops.

Challenge 3: Content

Content is what brings almost half of website users back to a site, Clutch’s research shows. Use design and UX to bring your content into focus on mobile. You want your users to access the most important content in the limited space available on their phone’s screen.

Your website is full of valuable content, but what will matter most to your mobile visitors? A street address? Login form? Event dates and times? Provide a focused experience by having that information readily available for users to access without scrolling, pinching to zoom, or navigating between pages.

Maintaining a focused mobile user experience also means scaling back potentially disruptive design elements such as lightboxes. Over half of people browsing online will leave a website with pop-ups. Save those for the laptop and desktop browsers.

What You Can Do: Prioritize user intent and hone in on the content mobile users want when visiting your site. Once you’ve identified users’ content priorities, decide what to include in drop-down menus, calls-to-action, and clickable options in your display.

Make a Good Mobile Site Your Priority

The mobile web is an important outlet that enables your content to reach the most people possible. Though user frustrations are consistent across platforms and devices, people visit mobile sites with different priorities and expectations. You can use your UX to prioritize your content and provide a focused experience for your users. Keep speed your first priority and work to strike a balance between beautiful, updated design and functionality for mobile browsers. This will give your site the competitive edge going into the New Year.

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Kelsey McKeon
Kelsey McKeon is a content writer at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm in Washington D.C. She covers web design and usability.

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