By now you have probably heard about responsive design and responsive websites. Responsive websites are websites whose layout adapts and changes based on the viewing environment of the device accessing it. With the growing prominence of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, it is important for websites to both look good and be easy-to-use across all mobile platforms.
With that in mind, Carly Stunder, Director of Website and Graphic Design at Miles Technologies, shares her top seven trends found on the best responsive websites.
1. Instant Gratification
When users first navigate to a website, they immediately want to know what they’re supposed to do. The main call to action should be placed right in front of them so they know exactly where to navigate. Upon first viewing the website, users should easily be able to ascertain its main goal or purpose.
2. Menu Navigation: The Hamburger Icon
We’re not talking food here (granted, your website would probably get a lot of visitors if each one got an actual hamburger). You may not have known that “Hamburger Icon” was the name for it, but you’ve certainly seen the three horizontal black bars usually located in the upper right or left corner of a website that marks the site’s navigation menu.
This is a popular design in responsive websites as a way to not take up precious space with a cumbersome menu. Having an easy-to-find and easy-to-use navigation menu is a must have for the best responsive websites.
3. Scrolling is A-Okay!
If users are going to be viewing your website on a smaller smartphone screen, they are going to expect to have to do some scrolling. Don’t fret if your website has a lot of (good) content or images on some of your pages. Scrolling is quick and easy on many mobile devices, so users should be able to quickly browse through it if that is what they’re aiming to do. For image heavy-sites, you can have more images appear as you scroll down—provided they load quickly. A popular example of a site that does this well is Pinterest.
4. Swiping for Photo Galleries
Speaking of images, what better way is there to delight your website’s visitors with some killer photos? If your site has some awesome photo galleries, make sure mobile visitors can access and browse through them quickly. Swiping has become a natural motion for smartphone users (no, not just because of Tinder), so having a gallery that is a breeze to swipe through is a great way to have your image content as easy as possible to access.
5. Links within Content
This can be a good trend to follow for websites in general, but it is especially beneficial for responsive sites and it can help become an easy way for users to naturally find their way around your content. If a key word or phrase refers to another page or piece of content found somewhere else on the site, make sure text is hyperlinked to easily send users there. This is a good way to provide further navigation options in lieu of crowded menus that may take up too much space on smaller mobile device screens.
6. Forms that are Easy to Fill Out on Mobile Devices
Whether you have users filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter or completing a customer satisfaction survey, most websites will have forms with which they want their users to interact. It is important to remember that many of your website’s visitors will not be filling out these forms with a keyboard and a mouse. When creating your forms, make sure every piece of them—dropdown menus, radio buttons, text fields, etc.—are fully functional and easy for user to fill out on their mobile devices. One of the worst things for your website would be losing a lead because someone thought your contact form was too tedious to complete from his or her device.
7. Social Media
BREAKING NEWS: People like to use social media… a lot… and not just on their desktops. Whatever type of content your company is has on its website, make it as easy as possible for users to share on their social media. On mobile devices, this often means integrating with mobile applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. If your website wants user to create an account, do you give them the ability to seamlessly log-in with Facebook? If so, are they directed back right where they want to go as soon as the log-in is complete? Don’t let your website’s design be an impediment for getting mentions on social media.
These are just a few of the many great trends that we see on some of the best responsive websites. What are some other favorites of yours? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.