The growing popularity of mobile devices has made things exciting (or difficult!) for graphic designers. When you are designing for a vast array of devices, your design needs to look good in a number of different conditions. Whether you are designing graphics for mobile games or apps, or for mobile-friendly websites, sticking to all the old lessons and best practices may not be enough.
First, designers need to understand the conventions of mobile design, and they need to experience, first hand, the challenges that crop up when one is designing for mobiles. As a graphic designer on his or her first mobile project, you will have to learn on the job. But, by keeping the following points in your mind, you can make sure that you get it right, right from the start.
# Mobile Aesthetics are Different
Let the aesthetic of your mobile graphic design be dictated by functionality and ease of use. Smartphones, with their touch screens, are far more interactive than PCs. The users perform actions on an app or mobile website with interacting with different graphic elements. So, the first job of your graphic elements is to make it easy and intuitive for the users to perform tasks.
Consistency on the look of the elements, and an adherence to standard practices is essential. While it may go against your grain to follow guidelines and standards that seem a little too restrictive, you must understand and master them. Some app stores, most notably Apple, donât accept apps if they feel that they don’t meet the UI & UX standards.
# More than One Screen
Some people use several devices at the same time, and most people switch between different mobile and desktop screens several times during the day. If you are building a responsive website, you need to make sure that the graphics suit different devices with different screen sizes. In case you are building a mobile app, you may need to make it look good on small smartphones, phabelts, mini-tablets and tablets.
The screens of all these devices have different resolutions. Most mobile devices have different resolutions. You need to account for this.
# Make your Graphics Flexible
Many graphic designers fail to do enough to make their designs fluid enough. Unlike desktops or PCs, mobiles and tablets screens rotate: the users can choose to see pages in the landscape mode or the portrait mode. So, you must bring a fluidity in your designs to ensure that it looks good, no matter how the users are holding the mobile. It is a good idea to create separate portrait and landscape versions of the design to make sure that the graphic elements look perfect in every situation.
# Remember: Size Matters More
As a graphic designer, one always tries to make sure that the size of the page and the websites doesnât become too big. While you have to be careful about the size of a web page for a website that is meant to be seen on PCs or desktops with decent broadband connections, you need to be extra cautious about the size of the website when you are targeting mobile devices.
While many mobile Internet providers around the world offer 3G and 4G speeds, low coverage can cause even users with ultra-fast plans to experience slow downloading. Any mobile website that is heavy will take too long to load, and mobile users are not patient. So, you need to work extra hard to ensure that your files are small.
Graphic designing, at the core, remains the same, whether you are creating graphics for mobiles or for PCs. However, the smaller size of mobile screens, the different modes of view, and the way in which people interact with mobiles has a big impact of your graphics. There are several tricks of the trade that you will come across when you: using relative pixel sizes, PNG images and optimizing colors, to name a few. While the above points will nudge you in the right direction, experience will be the best teacher.
Have you been designing graphics for mobiles during the last few years? What do you think are the most important things that a designer must keep in mind? Please share you insights and experiences in the comments!