top ten tips from mobile web experts

By Anthony Wing Kosner


My upcoming piece on ESPN‘s mobile website yielded a trove of useful advice about how companies can improve their mobile web experiences for their customers. For people who don’t want to wait until Monday (mobile people hate to wait!) I thought I would extract the take away bits into a handy package. So here are my top ten tips based on interviews with Luke Wroblewski, mobile consultant and author of Mobile First, and Jay Lee, Senior Director of Product Development at ESPN mobile:

1. Mobile First: Don’t just scale down your desktop site and try to squeeze as much as you can into the little screen. Use the mobile development process to prune your offerings to the most essential.

2. Content Over Navigation: Nobody cares about your org chart! Use screen real estate to display actual content, not just hierarchies of links.

3. Outside In: Consider what your customers want first and then make sure you can deliver it. Don’t start from what you have—start from what they need.

4. Need for Speed: Do everything you can to make the mobile experience fast. People use mobile in between other tasks and nobody wants to wait while they’re waiting.

5. Fan Feedback: Check in with your users regularly, especially when you change features. Don’t assume you know how people will use your site—you don’t.

6. Device Independence: The mobile landscape is constantly evolving in terms of devices and even operating systems. Use HTML5 and other web standards to future-proof your development.

7. Front Load It: Smartphones are becoming more capable of rendering pages on the front end. Use this ability to limit server calls and provide for each device’s unique implementations.

8. Slight of Hand: Shift the user’s focus during time-consuming processes so that they are not even aware of waiting while they wait.

9. Provide Pivots: The way to make more screen area available for content is to tuck navigational options behind clearly labeled buttons that allow users to explore options and dive deeper.

10. Push with Alerts: You can make navigation disappear altogether by setting up preferences for mobile alerts. Your customers will get your content faster and you will learn about what they want.