Two big trends in website design and content, the pivot to video and the rise of mobile users, have put the industry on a course to a point where sites need to be highly optimized for both. Google has gone to an indexing strategy that favors mobile versions of websites over desktop versions, and this will only serve to drive the trend harder. As you try to keep up with the pace of change, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The use of viewports in HTML now makes comfortably resizing design layouts simpler than ever before. This is especially important on sites that deploy a lot of video content since mobile users prefer that videos be readily sized to their screens and easy to access. If you’re trying to split the difference between mobile and desktop versions of a website, a responsive design that accommodates both sets of users may be the way to go. In fact, most web designers and programmers now begin by building sites as mobile-first, and then they add functionality that accommodates desktop devices afterward.
Page Load Times
Loading time gets pounded a lot in the literature on good web design, but it goes double for delivering content to mobile users. Folks on mobile devices are notoriously quick to quit on sites that load slowly, often disappearing within three seconds if a page doesn’t load. For reference, the average web page takes around 9 seconds to load. That’s a massive disparity, and it presents an opportunity for anyone who’s trying to carve out a niche in the mobile and video sectors.
More and Shorter Videos
It may seem odd that mobile users want more videos, especially given the typical data usage limitations, but they often do. Mobile users tend to skew younger, and many have screens that are better for video viewing than reading. Intriguingly, while these users often watch more videos, they tend to also prefer ones that are shorter. As you’re developing your video content, you’ll want to focus on bite-sized content. If you have existing videos that aren’t performing well, you may want to consider how they can be trimmed down or chopped up to accommodate these viewing preferences.
Never Auto Play
Auto-playing videos are one of the great nuisances of the modern internet, but it represents a small breach of trust with mobile users. If someone is trying to stay within a mobile data cap, the last thing they want is to be hit with autoplay videos. There’s a good chance you’ll lose users permanently if your site gets a reputation for autoplay.
Reduce Video Size
Most mobile devices don’t have screens that can take advantage of full HD video, so it’s best to avoid defaulting to large video sizes. If you’d like to have an option for HD, simply build it into the interface. With a really good responsive configuration, you can even set your site up to play the small and more compressed version of a video for a mobile user while also offering high-def to desktop users.
For much of the history of the internet, Adobe’s Flash Player has been the primary delivery mechanism for video content. Many mobile devices don’t support Flash, so it’s wise to build your content on an HTML5 platform. This will also make it easier for the devices to interact with the underlying video, making resizing simpler.
Video, especially on mobile platforms, has come a long way in recent years. It’s increasingly important that website owners cater to mobile users who want videos. With a handful of tweaks, you can quickly prepare your site to be a part of this future.
In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.