Mobile Website Design Mini-Course Volume I: Know Your Basics

Before you can get into the details of mobile website design, you need to be familiar with the basics of desktop (‘normal’) website design. You need to know how to code in HTML, how to use CSS, and how to upload with FTP. You need to know the five things that separate a business website from anything else.

SEO
If you don’t know anything about website SEO, you aren’t a web designer, no matter how elite your HTML and CSS skills — because every website that expects to turn a profit has to be optimized for the search engines, or it’s wasting everyone’s time and money.

The Background
Similarly, you have to understand what ‘background’ pages each client needs to look legitimate. Contact information — everyone. ToS — any SaaS model. Privacy Policy — anyone who takes even a single piece of personal information from their surfers. Site Map — everyone. EULA — anyone that provides an ongoing transaction or service. And so on.

Search
Unless you’re making a very very simple site, you should always include a search bar that allows a user to find whatever page they need from whatever page their on by typing a few words and clicking a button. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find a page you previously read and being unable to.

Product/Service Information
You can’t do business if you can sell the product or service you’re offering, end of story. You might not need to write the copy yourself, but you’d better be able to include the context the copy will need to have around it in order to succeed.

Call to Action/Payment Services
If you’re actually selling something, you’d better have a checkout — or at the least, a Buy It Now button. If your business model involves some other form of transaction (like a squeeze page or a free download), you’d better make that very clear to your visitors.

Once you’re comfortable designing desktop sites with these basic business elements, we can talk about designing mobile websites…and we will in upcoming posts.

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