Essential Mobile Layouts: 5 Must-See Examples

Abhi Chatterjee
7 min readNov 20, 2023

Crafting exceptional websites and mobile interfaces can be a formidable challenge, especially when it feels like the design landscape is saturated with only a handful of layout options. In this guide, I’ll unravel the secrets to elevate your mobile website designs beyond the ordinary. Join me as I explore innovative strategies to make your site stand out, ensuring a unique and custom feel. Let’s delve into the art of transforming your mobile design experience.

1. Differentiable Sections

Let’s delve into the crucial aspect of designing distinct sections for your mobile website. It’s essential to ensure users can effortlessly identify their location within your site. The common pitfall of repetitive layouts, as depicted in the left example, tends to blend elements together. To combat this, consider implementing strategies showcased in the three improved examples.

  1. Background Color Variation:
    Instead of a monotonous white background, experiment with diverse background colors for each section. This simple tweak significantly enhances visual separation.
  2. Complete Background Overhaul:
    Take it a step further by changing the entire background color, providing a clear demarcation between different sections. This not only adds flair but also aids in creating a unique visual identity.
  3. Strategic Spacing:
    Don’t shy away from adding sufficient spacing between sections. Avoid the temptation to compress everything tightly; mobile users are accustomed to scrolling. Generous spacing enhances readability and ensures each section stands out independently.
  4. Introduce Visual Breaks:
    Employ breaks between sections, be it through subtle lines or icons. This not only adds a touch of sophistication but also aids in seamlessly guiding users through your content.

By incorporating these techniques, you can transform your mobile design into an engaging, visually dynamic experience. Remember, the key is to make each section distinct and navigable, offering users a seamless journey through your website.

Example

2. Work Within Viewport

Let’s refocus on the importance of working within the viewport for an optimal mobile user experience. While it’s common to see overcrowded layouts, it’s equally detrimental to have oversized elements that require excessive scrolling. Striking the right balance ensures users can absorb your content effortlessly within a single viewport.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

In the example of a poorly optimized layout, an oversized image dominates, forcing users to scroll excessively to grasp the full content. This can create a sense of being too close, compelling users to zoom out, disrupting the overall user experience.

Strategies for Success

  1. Thoughtful Image Sizing: Reduce image sizes judiciously, ensuring they fit comfortably within the viewport without overwhelming the screen. This not only aids in visual clarity but also expedites content consumption.
  2. Font Size Considerations: While it’s tempting to use large fonts, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Shrinking text sizes, while maintaining readability, allows users to absorb more content at once, reducing the need for excessive scrolling.
  3. Whitespace is Your Friend: Embrace whitespace to provide your content with room to breathe. Avoid the temptation to compress elements too tightly, fostering a cleaner and more user-friendly layout.
  4. Adaptive Font Guidelines: Consider a general rule of thumb for font sizes — 16 pixels for body copy, 24 pixels for regular H2 headers. Adjust these sizes based on the specific needs of your content, keeping in mind that sometimes, smaller fonts can enhance the overall aesthetic and readability.

By applying these strategies, you’ll not only enhance the visual appeal of your mobile design but also create a more accessible and enjoyable experience for your users.

Example

3. Use Dropdowns Wisely

In our exploration of effective mobile design, let’s delve into the art of using dropdowns judiciously. While dropdowns can be a space-saving and user-friendly feature, overuse can lead to a sense of hidden information and user frustration.

The Pitfall of Overuse

A common mistake, as illustrated in the bad example, involves presenting users with an overwhelming array of dropdowns. This scenario, more suitable for an FAQ section, can be confusing and frustrating when implemented in the middle of a website.

Guidelines for Success

  1. Limited Dropdowns: Opt for a focused approach by using only two to three dropdowns per section. This ensures a manageable and user-friendly interface.
  2. Visual Indicators: Clearly communicate the dropdown functionality to users. In the good example, having one dropdown open by default serves as a visual cue, supplemented by icons, colors, or opacities to indicate the active state.
  3. Educate Users: Provide introductory information or guidance to inform users about the dropdown feature. This initial openness sets expectations and encourages engagement.
  4. Iconic Clarity: Incorporate intuitive icons that signify the dropdown’s interactive nature. This not only adds visual appeal but also guides users effectively.

By tactically integrating dropdowns into your design and offering clear visual cues, you can harness their benefits without overwhelming or confusing your audience. Let’s ensure a seamless and frustration-free user experience.

Example

4. Use Intuitive Sliders

In our quest for seamless mobile design, let’s spotlight the strategic use of sliders. Much like dropdowns, it’s crucial to ensure that sliders are not only present but also intuitively navigable. The first example highlights a common pitfall — a slider with no apparent indication of direction, leading to potential confusion and frustration.

Key Strategies for Success

  1. Visual Cues: In the improved examples, introducing subtle visual cues, such as dots below the slider, indicates the presence of multiple slides. However, for enhanced clarity, consider incorporating additional indicators like arrows or buttons.
  2. Subtle Peeks: An innovative approach involves revealing a portion of the next slide, subtly signaling users that more content awaits. This not only piques curiosity but also encourages effortless exploration.
  3. Arrow Buttons: For straightforward navigation, consider adding large arrow buttons or labeled “Next” and “Previous” buttons. This eliminates any guesswork, ensuring users know exactly how to interact with the slider.
  4. Dynamic Slide Indicators: Experiment with dynamic indicators, such as a moving box or changing colors, to highlight the current slide. This not only aids in navigation but also provides users with a clear sense of progression.

By implementing these intuitive slider techniques, you empower users to seamlessly navigate your content without the need for conscious thought. Remember, the goal is to enhance user experience by making interaction second nature.

Example

5. Simplify Images or Videos

In the realm of mobile design, the adage ‘less is more’ holds particular relevance, especially when it comes to images. Whether you opt for videos or static images, the key lies in creating a visually engaging experience without overwhelming your mobile audience.

Strategic Image Simplification

  1. Ditch the Complexity: Recognizing that such detail can be lost on smaller screens, simplifying images for mobile is essential. This involves zooming in, adding spacing, and increasing font sizes for clarity.
  2. Mobile-Focused Imagery: Tailor your visuals specifically for mobile viewing. Instead of squeezing a desktop-sized image into a smaller screen, opt for a dedicated mobile file. This ensures that your imagery remains impactful and comprehensible on mobile devices.

Leveraging the Power of Videos

  1. Seamless Engagement: Videos, especially those with auto-play features, can significantly enhance user engagement. Aim for videos that feel like animated images, providing a dynamic and captivating experience without requiring users to click play.
  2. Adaptable Backgrounds: If you have a widescreen image designed for a desktop hero section, don’t hesitate to repurpose it for mobile. Zoom in on the focal point, eliminate the background and create a customized mobile experience that goes beyond mere adaptation.

By simplifying images and strategically incorporating videos, you not only optimize the mobile viewing experience but also convey a sense of custom design tailored to the unique demands of mobile users.

Example

If I’ve missed any useful tips, I’d appreciate your comments to discuss and add them to the list.

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Abhi Chatterjee

UX Designer at Dubai Municipality specialised in User research & Interaction Design