As web design evolves to meet the needs a of a mobile-centric world, there are few things to consider when building a mobile-friendly website.
1. Think about how it will be used in mobile and ask if you really need a mobile version
Yes, mobile browsers are used on mobile devices that tend to be smaller than your average laptop (although, the trend is towards bigger and bigger smartphones like the Galaxy Note). As such, you will want to think about how well your site presents on a smaller screen. That doesn’t neccessarily mean you need to make a mobile verison of your site or a responsive design site. You just need to think about how your site will be used on a phone.
I have seen plenty of sites where the standard version is already very simple, and building a mobile or responsive version would add little to the experience. In fact, when you introduce a mobile version, you need to understand that you may be asking the user to use a version of your site that is differrent from the version they like (and thus why they come back to your site over time).
Having said that, there are many situations where a mobile version makes sense.
2. Take advantage of mobile capabilities
When you build a mobile friendly site, you can leverage some technologies (i.e. geo-location services) that will allow you to add new functionality. For example, if your website is for a retail business chain, a script that detects the user’s location and provides the closest location to them (along with store hours, phone, etc.) would allow the user to find this information without doing a search.
3. Give them an option
When possible, always give the user the choice to view the ‘desktop’ version of your site. I find myself requesting this about half the time I am presented with a mobile version. This is usually because the mobile version feels like a ‘watered down’ version of the desktop.
4. Think about keeping the site lean
Today’s mobile connection speeds are much faster with LTE and even 3G providing very good download rates. However, it is still slow sometimes (bandwidth can often depend on signal strength, quality of carrier, etc.) so keeping your mobile version lighter in load size can make the experience much better.
5. Think backend
Make sure your site is properly designed so that the ongoing maintenance of content, templates, css, scripts, snippets, etc. are manageable, logical, and efficient. Nothing worse than building a site with multiple version only to create a management nightmare down the road.