5 Strategies for Mobile First Design

Do you develop your website with a mobile responsive or mobile first design strategy? How do I know which one that I am using? Mobile responsive uses CSS to adjust the design to look good when viewed on different devices. Your design may have started out for desktop and updated to work on mobile. Mobile first focuses on designing for mobile users and their devices first. With the numbers of people who use the Internet through a smartphone or table, you want to make sure that your site is usable and fast for them.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

What mobile strategies can you use?

1. Keep your content short
Use writing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway to help you write better and keep it short.

2. Keep your site simple
Review your website. Look at the number of pages and links in your navigation bar. You may have too many. Consider getting rid of old and unnecessary pages and links. Are your pages cluttered? Do they have too much information crammed onto them? Use white space to add breathing room between different pieces of information. Can you reduce the number of columns you use to two or one? On mobile, you want to limit the number of columns used. Two or less is recommended.

3. Use Mobile First Design practices
Use white space, vivid colors, bold shapes and strong typographic elements in your design. Do you need to use photos? You can use a mix of stock and real photos to create a unique brand. Remember to optimize the photos for the web. Photos with large file sizes can slow your site down.

4. Make your site fast
Your site needs to load fast. People will leave a website with performance issues. On mobile, it is even more important. What can you do to speed it up?

5. Test and get feedback
How do you test your website without access to different devices and users? You have to test as best you can.

  • Test your website with an online testing tool to see how it works on different devices.
  • Test on many real devices as possible.
  • Ask your co-workers or staff if they like how the website works.

Whether your visitors use a phone, tablet or desktop, you want to make the experience a good one. By designing for mobile first, you can make design decisions that help create a good user experience.

Making a Dark Mode For Your Website

Do you use dark themes or dark mode in your text editor? You can offer website visitors a choice of dark or light modes. Some people prefer using the dark mode because it is easier on their eyes.

Making a Dark Mode For Your Website
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

What do you need to create a dark mode?

The only tools you need are HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You can use a button to allow your visitors to select between modes or use media queries that check their operating system for their preference.

Toggle example

Ananay Negoi uses CSS Variables and a button to toggle between light and dark mode. She demonstrates how to build the Dark-Light mode switch.

Level 5 Media Query

Level 5 Media Query checks your operating system for your preference for a light or dark mode. You can use this query to automatically set the mode for each visitor.

Designing for dark mode

When you create a dark mode for your website, it involves more than switching the colors to darker ones. You need to consider how color, fonts, images affect the readability and usability of your website. Your website reflects your brand. You want to think about how a dark mode can affect your brand. Andy Clarke walks you through the steps he took when he created a dark mode version of his website.

Dark Mode Resources

If you want to implement a dark mode design of your website, refer to these resources on how to do it.

Animation Principles for Enhancing UX

With new tools like CSS Animation, JavaScript Libraries and modern browsers, we can easily add animation to our websites. Animation helps you to provide context, give feedback, convey status and delight your users. You can affect color, location, scale, shape, focus and opacity of objects. By learning the principles of animation, you can create deliberate animation that improves the user experience.

Photo by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

12 Principles of Animation

Disney animators, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, first introduced the 12 Principles of Animation in their book, The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. They examine the process of animation from Disney’s leading animations and provide you with 12 basic animation principles.

What do the 12 principles provide?

  • Realism
  • Context
  • Causality
  • Focus
  • Delight

They also help to create hierarchy and relationships between objects. These principles help you to provide feedback to the user, indicate status and give instructions. One of the first uses of animation on computer screens was the flashing cursor. It tells you that you can start typing and that the computer is working and not frozen. This simple animation conveys information faster than words can.

How to Use Animation Responsibly

When you are deciding to add animation to your user interface, consider the following:

  • Does it add value?
  • Are your behaviors consistent?
  • Is the user interface still functional without it?
  • Is the animation optimized?
  • Do you need it?

Using Animation to Enhance User Experience

At WordCamp Atlanta 2019, Michelle Schulp gave a talk Squash and Stretch and Good UX- Using Animation To Enhance User Experience. She gave a quick overview of the 12 Principles of Animation. Michelle explains the uses of animation and how to use animation responsibly.

More resources on animation

Become a better designer with design challenges

Design is about solving problems not making it look pretty. You want your designs to work. They should be easy to understand and use. How do you get better at design? By doing. It can be hard to come up with ideas to design. You can practice with design challenges.

Become a better designer with design challenges
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

Why do design challenges?

Challenges help you get better at solving problems. They help you to explore new ideas, understand how other designers approach problems and improve your UX skills. You may create a solution that you want to use as a case study in your portfolio.

Here are four different websites where you can find a challenge to tackle:

1. Can’t Unsee: UX Design Game

Can't Unsee Ux Game
Ready to test your UX design skills? You can test your skills with Alex Kotliarskyi’s Can’t Unsee. It is a game that tests your UI design skills and attention to details. With three levels, you can challenge your skills in interface design.

2. UX Challenges

UX Challenge Co Website
Practice solving problems with UX Challenges. These challenges ask you to solve real world problems. You may want to use your solution to a problem as a case study for your portfolio or practice for a design interview.

3. Daily UI

Daily UI Challenges website
Want to become a better designer? You can sign up for a series of design challenges, inspirations and more. Use these daily challenges to learn and improve your design skills.

4. Designercize

Designercize
Designercize randomly gives you a design problem. You can pick the problem that you want to focus on, choose a time to complete it in and click on play. When the time is done, you should have a completed design.

Need more challenges? Try 100 UX problems from Jon Crabb on UX Collective. Or if you write code, you can consider these coding challenges.

How to plan a project?

Projects can be large or small. They can be finished in 24 hours or take months even years to complete. Whether you are working on a project for yourself or a client, you need to create a plan. Your plan can be as simple or detailed as you need it to be. A simple coding plan covers things like what I am going to make, tools I need, steps needed to complete project, sketch out your designs, plan your code and schedule time to work on it.

How To Plan a Project
Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Decide what to make

The best projects fall somewhere between things that you enjoy doing and things that allow you to learn marketable skills. If you are working on a side project or a hobby, you want to make certain that it has these elements. When you work on client projects, you may not get a project that has both. All projects can provide you with the opportunity to learn something.

Coming up with ideas for personal or side projects can be hard. By keeping a project notebook as Amie Chen does, you’ll have plenty of ideas to choose from. You can also ask your friends what problems they are having or try one of these ideas.

Pick the tools you want to use

Whether you are going to use a new framework or sketching tool, you should make sure that you have everything that you’ll need. Need new software? Install it. Photos? Download or purchase them. Make sure you have what you so you can set up your space for working on your project right away.

Plan the steps to complete your project

When you are first starting a project, it is easy to get excited about it and want to start building right away. Don’t. Plan out your project. Use a process called backwards planning. Start with your end goal. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and write down clear steps and milestones that you need to achieve this goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you can revise as needed later.

What about extra things that you didn’t plan for? You may discover that you need a few extra things. if you are using an API, you may need to sign up for a developer key. Add them to your plan as you learn about them so you don’t forget to do it.

Design

Design is more than making it look pretty. It can be helpful to sketch out your designs before building an app. By sketching it out, you can decide what features to include, how people will use it and how it looks.

Plan your code

Start small. Think about the steps that the user needs to do in order to accomplish something. Break your code down into functions. By breaking it down, you make it easier to write your code.

Schedule time to build it

Look at your schedule and plan time to work on this project. You may need to stop doing less important things like watching TV.