How to Build a Mobile Compatible Websites

Remember that a mobile website is similar to any standard website. These have HTML pages, text content, data, images, and video, just like any other website you see on a desktop or laptop computer. They are accessed using Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G networks. Mobile websites differ from those designed for the typical desktop by being designed specifically for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface found on tablet computers and mobile phone devices.

The Main Challenges

Web designers have seen more websites viewed on mobile devices over the last few years. With the advent of mobile apps and websites, designers can no longer afford to ignore this.


There are four main challenges that designers face.

So many devices, some many browsers. Mobile development is more than cross-browser compatibility; it is also cross-platform compatible. So many mobile devices are from well-established vendors such as Apple and Samsung, and more are coming up. Testing for each device is a near-impossible task. To make things even more difficult, all the devices can use many different mobile browsers, such as the native pre-installed browser, Android or Firefox, and other browsers.

Internet connections and slow speed. A survey by EPiServer shows that the slowness of a mobile website is a major issue for users of tablets and smartphones. They are not as tolerant in waiting for a website to load or for web page features to load as those users using a desktop. Internet connections provided by vendors are partly responsible for the slow speeds experienced by users. Networks are busy, or the web hosting is sluggish, beyond the designer’s control. Designers are challenged to design with mobile users in mind and give them the tailored but complete experience they want on their devices. Rather than cut out parts of the regular desktop, designers should streamline their mobile websites and avoid pop-ups, Flash applications, high-quality background images, and unplayable videos. They should also check that any redirects to a mobile URL are working. Therefore, the Internet connection speed and loading time should be increased to a near-instant load and quick and enjoyable experience.

Small screen size Mobile devices present designers with a further challenge: tiny screen size. Typically, the mobile website scrolls vertically or downwards with sections “stacked” on each other. This forces designers to produce radically different layouts of the main website. However, designers should restrict just how much they do this because users do not want to scroll endlessly to get to what they want to see; otherwise, they will leave the website.


Ease of use: As well as battling different screen sizes, designers face ease of use or service. As with all websites, they must be easy to use, or the users will leave the website. Designers can do a few things, including improving readability by increasing the font size of any small or medium-sized text.
Increase the clickable areas of any important buttons or links because “clicking” on links and parts of web pages is generally less precise on mobile devices. Choose vertical over horizontal scrolling because horizontal real estate is costly on mobile devices. Avoid floated elements where possible, as these cause problems for mobile layouts. Avoid mouse-over states because these do not work with most mobile devices. This calls either for showing the links at all times on mobile devices. Three approaches to mobile design With the above four issues in mind, designers have many courses open to them when designing mobile-compatible websites.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) Using RWD enables you to optimize your website experience across different screen sizes and devices without creating multiple websites. This is accomplished using flexible templates, CSS media queries, and JavaScript events. This approach results in a website that can respond to the viewport size of a device and adjust images, template layout, and content visibility. They can even harness novel device capabilities such as dragging, swiping, and other user gestures recognized by touch devices. In addition, only a single URL is needed, making it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content. No redirection is needed for a device-optimized view. This reduces load time.

The Dynamically Custom HTML on the same URL Websites can be set to detect what device users use to view your website and present a custom page (HTML + CSS) to the user on the same URL. These custom pages can be designed for any device. Detecting the user’s device and changing the served content requires some customization that must be maintained per device. Detection thus heavily relies on the device to relay its true user agent.

Separate mobile URLs

A third option is to build a separate mobile-traffic site independent of your original desktop site. Designers can let the user decide whether to view the mobile website. The IKEA furniture store was one such example.

While this option requires more user interaction, it is arguably the most fool-proof method of dividing mobile user traffic from desktop traffic and the easiest opportunity to accomplish. There is no need to detect devices.

However, some mobile users may miss the view mobile link, and other non-mobile visitors may click the link because it is visible regardless of what device is being used, such as a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Some users prefer a condensed layout that is optimized for their devices. In contrast, other users may access the entire website without limited mobile layout restrictions.

How can software help accomplish this task and make it easier?

In this day and age, web design software means software that can be bought and downloaded to a desktop computer and software that can be subscribed to and used online.

From the beginning of web design, web design software over time has made the task of designing websites easier by reducing the collaboration involved, such as removing the need to hand-code all the time, reducing the time it takes to create a website, and allowing more novices to develop their website and so make it all less elitist. Designers have used software such as FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, and Expression Web to aid them in this task.

Designers can again use these tools to help them design mobile websites. Such software is now desktop-based and online via many website builders, such as GoDaddy and FashHosts. There are many more.

In its latest version, Dreamweaver, the industry standard, uses responsive design in combination with a range of built-in settings for desktop, tablet, and smartphone and allows designers to easily create a mobile-compatible website.

Equally, website builders like those provided by Fasthosts and GoDaddy enable even the most novice designer to design a mobile-compatible website with just a few clicks.

Both types of web design software make mobile site creation easier because they can automate most of the tasks and processes needed. The responsive design approach is typically followed, so Fluid Layouts, Proportion-based grids, and Media Queries are used.

Designers can address some of the main challenges discussed above using software to automate code creation for a successful fluid layout combined with CSS and JavaScript media queries. Websites will adjust to the screen sizes of different devices and cater to the number of browsers available on mobile devices. Features help ease of use in the software, making menus and clickable areas easier to click on. It is also the designer’s responsibility to take such steps. The software cannot help with the Internet connection and speed, and so remain out of the designer’s and the user’s hands in many cases. Still, the designer can streamline their mobile site by avoiding anything that could slow the website’s loading time on a mobile device.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.