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How to Approach the Differences in Mobile and Desktop Web Design

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With desktops and mobiles now both crucial for online accessibility, businesses can’t afford to target just one. This can be a complicated task, thanks to both platforms coming with physical differences that will skew design. The wrong approach can cause a bad first impression, reduce the clickthrough rate, and even do permanent damage to a business’s profits. To address this issue, it’s necessary to understand the key components and break them down in a way that works for both ends of the accessibility spectrum.

Two Parts of a Whole

Despite the digital market already expanding so rapidly in the last decade, its continual technological revolutions maintain a strong upward trajectory. This is seen in the rising digital ambitions of major companies and nations that we have covered in-depth here on SMEStreet, but it’s just as easily illustrated by rising user activity.

According to 2021 statistics from Reviews, Americans on average checked their phones 262 times per day. With around 59 percent of all online traffic coming from mobile devices, the implications of ignoring this platform in any way are immense. Mobiles are ubiquitous, and with voice control, their access to business websites is online growing more profound.

On the other hand, desktops and laptops are still the go-to when it comes to more serious activities. Bolstered by constantly developing speed and tech as reported here on SMEStreet, users knuckle down with computers thanks to their advantages in controls. A mouse and keyboard offer greater accuracy and feedback than a touch screen, so for any longer typing or navigation tasks, it’s the superior option. Combined, these two forms of access cover the different needs and wants of customers, so neither can be ignored.



Targeting the System’s Strengths

When it comes to performance, smartphones have reached a point now where cutting-edge tech like 5G ensures no reasonable difference compared to desktop systems for business webpage uses, and companies continue to expand on this as per this SmeStreet article. Instead, differences are best illustrated by the components of display in input. To offer the best possible experience, a business needs to consider these realities, and how they affect the end experience.

Coming decades after computers sought to discover the most efficient means of user input, mobiles find themselves in a place where they can only emulate desktop and laptop potential. With less room and no tactile feedback, these limitations need to be reflected in web page design that understands the need for maximum and minimum touch size.

Consider eBay on mobile as an example. Despite basing its website on offering as wide a range of options as possible, eBay recognizes that filling the screen with as many sales with small buttons as it can is non-viable. Instead, this website, like all good mobile web pages, leans into the need for better navigation. Swiping and touching on large and obvious sections needs to put in a lot of legwork here, illustrating the importance of functionality.

Keyboard and mouse access avoids these issues, thanks to the small buttons leaving little chance for error thanks to more accurate input. Functionality is still extremely important in this regard, as users on desktops and laptops will tend to be moving faster than their mobile counterparts. A poor effort here is no longer acceptable, with decades of groundwork illustrating a bare minimum.

One site we’ve seen complaints about in terms of input is the image-sharing website Flickr. The search bar for this website has been faulty for years, where moving the mouse cursor slightly below the search box while typing will cause the spacebar to stop functioning. This is inexcusable in the modern age, and it’s of extreme detriment to users.

apple-iphone-smartphone-desk, Pexel Photo


In terms of display, the main concern for mobiles comes from the more limited space. While modern resolutions of smartphone displays have no issue with clarity, the smaller overall real estate means that web pages need to find a balance between overall navigation and per-page information. The Betway online casino, for example, needs to balance a huge number of slots, table, and live games, while still allowing quick navigation between sections. This is accomplished through clever use of iconography, and by scaling up elements like game titles while scaling down page tabs. YouTube takes a similar approach on mobiles, featuring larger sections for video displays while minimizing search function intrusion in a streamlined manner.

Again, this is a place where the issues faced by computers find themselves on the other end of the spectrum. With so much potential space, the question for web design lies in where to draw the line of overabundance. It’s great to show off a selection, but overwhelming users can drive them away. A person can only internalize so much information at one time, which is why long-lasting websites like Fark have maintained their general layout for well over a decade – there’s no reason to expand.

Pexels Photo MacBook


Understanding these components and implementing them efficiently can be a difficult task, so don’t be discouraged if you fail at first. Instead, experiment with different designs, and remember that iteration can be better than starting over from zero. With the right approach, understanding the differences between computers and mobiles can make a significant difference, just remember that in an evolving online world, your work will never truly be done.


SMEStreet Edit Desk

SMEStreet Edit Desk is a small group of excited and motivated journalists and editors who are committed to building MSME ecosystem through valuable information and knowledge spread.

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