The Power Of The Thumb – And Mobile Web Design!
With more users relying on mobile phones every day, user-friendly mobile web design is paramount. A key element in web development for mobile interface is the thumb zone. No matter the size of the screen or how the user holds their phone, web design services must pay attention to the thumb zone to ensure designs are user-friendly and effective.
No Matter How You Hold It
As a web design service, it is important you understand how users typically hold their mobile phones and then incorporate this into your mobile web design. Following are the three main ways users hold their phones:
- One-handed, using the same thumb on that hand.
- One-handed, cradling the phone using the opposite thumb or forefinger.
- Two-handed, using the thumbs on both hands.
The common denominator in all of these methods of holding a phone is the natural positioning and use of the thumb or thumb and forefinger to operate the device. This is a significant detail that must be reflected in all mobile web development.
The Importance of the Thumb Zone
The thumb zone is the area on a mobile touchscreen that is easily reached by the thumbs. The natural part of this zone covers the central portion of the screen and downward since this area is easy to reach using the thumbs for both right and left-hand users. The further from the natural zone a user must reach, the more difficult navigating a mobile website can be.
Your goal for effective mobile web design is to keep the most important functions within the central and lower thumb zone where they can be easily used regardless of how the user chooses to hold and control their device. This may be easier said than done, especially considering the way mobile screens are continually growing in size while thumb reach remains the same.
Solving Mobile Thumb Navigation Dilemmas
Between increasing screen sizes and the need to provide greater mobile function, keeping the most important navigation within the thumb zone is becoming more challenging. The best way for you to meet this challenge is to look at web development in a different light than when designing for a desktop. Responsive, mobile-friendly design is essential for comfortable mobile use.
As a web design service, it is no longer necessary for you to keep everything “above the fold” since this can be restrictive on such a small screen. Users are accustomed to scrolling while mobile. Navigation must be arranged so it handles the number of links needed for the site and keeps the links reachable within the thumb zone. Full-screen overlays may work for more complex navigation menus, while bottom bar and sticky menus may suffice for navigation with fewer links.
A combination of both of these things may also work. Action cards and swipe functions within the thumb zone can also be used in place of some links to keep menus smaller. This should be the goal of all mobile designs as usability increases when functions can be controlled within the thumb zone.
As a web design service, you are tasked with the need to fit more function into increasingly smaller mobile websites. To achieve this, your web development must focus on the thumb zone. All essential navigation should be reachable from within that zone, regardless of screen size and handhold. Therefore, successful mobile web design today requires great innovation to bring aesthetics and function together in the best possible ways!