February 26, 2019
Web design and mobile design share many qualities that can be applied to one another. The general theme and branding can usually be sustained as well as the color identity and the page order. However, there are a few key things that separate the disciplines in incredibly important ways.
Both the web and mobile platforms are very well capable of delivering unique experiences. It truly comes down to which practices and methods are needed for the respective platforms. Their focuses may be slightly different but when it comes down to it, it means a world of difference.
1. Web design prioritizes content
Unlike mobile design, web design is very much concerned with content creation and content marketing. What does this mean? In order for a website to be ranked, it needs to be optimized in a number of ways.
Instead of getting technical with SEO terms and practices, it is best to just summarize that content is important for optimizing a site. Quality video posts, blog posts, and copy are all necessary components.
As such, designers have to understand that a website must be set up for creating and presenting content in a professional way and in keeping with the company brand.
2. Mobile design prioritizes interactivity
While web design prioritizes content, mobile designers must prioritize interactivity. While both websites and mobile apps are plagued by unbelievably high bounce rates, both deal with this problem in unique ways.
No doubt, top mobile designers and web designers must try to make load times as fast as possible; however, they are dissimilar in many other areas.
Particularly, mobile designers must put interactivity first. This means that buttons, forms, and menus must respond easily to a tap from a thumb or finger. In addition, mobile sites and apps must grab the attention of the user through some form of interaction.
3. Web designers must create responsive sites
Interestingly, mobile and web design do often intersect. For web designers, they must build mobile-friendly websites. Why? More than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices.
More often than not, users will access a site through a small screen. As such, web designers have to build clean, efficient websites that run quickly on both desktops and mobile devices.
4. UI is arguably a more important concern for mobile designers
The user interface is always important. No matter how people are accessing your software, your user interface should be simple, intuitive, and pleasing to the eye.
While UI is important for every software product, UI is especially important for mobile designers. While web designers need to make clean, simple designs, mobile designers have even less space to work on.
If a web designer is helping shape the UI design for a web app, there are fewer variables to take into account. Mobile designers must account for varying screen sizes, limited space, and a touchable interface.
In general, websites have a much larger capacity for running real-time scripts and widgets. Typically websites will allow for advanced web programming and will be capable of producing an incredible amount of content in very little time. Mobile design, however, is much more concerned with the aesthetic of a site or application.
The “feeling” of a product is of paramount importance to the mobile designer as they have fewer resources to work with but great resolution. The mobile designer will try to make things work on hardware that isn’t as naturally powerful as a desktop and not as big. However, this does nothing to limit the versatility of the mobile platform.
Ultimately, web designers and mobile designers share similar skills that are requisite for their respective fields. Web designers can be more flamboyant with their use of effects and scripting. Mobile designers can take advantage of the interactivity inherent in smartphones and use it to make a unique experience that engages the user.
Each is necessary in order for a company to thrive and survive. The web designer can give your customers and browsers incredibly adept experiences and the mobile designer can transport your brand to audiences in unique ways. They both work to make brands better and are essential for any company that wants to compete in the technology industry.
By Josh Althauser is an entrepreneur with a background in design and M&A. He's also a developer, open source advocate, and designer. You may connect with him on Twitter.