When it comes to mobile, the design world is caught in a strange place. On one side, it's considered a crucial point of focus. On the other, it's a painstaking process that can be impossible to match with your desktop aesthetic. And even though we've hammered down the science to designing for mobile, it's okay to take a completely different approach.
While your mobile site should always be optimized for success, there's a number of different things you should consider when building strictly for our phones. Below I've compiled a list of a few scenarios to brainstorm on when you're shifting your mobile focus:
The 'Show Your Work' Site
Whether you're just an independent freelancer or a full-scale agency, looking at a portfolio site on mobile can sometimes be a nightmare. Page after page, copy after copy, there's just too much to digest on such a small screen; which for designers can be a tough battle. On one end, we want to showcase our mobile abilities. But on the other, we want people to take their time with what we've built.
Over the past couple years, I've heard designers absolutely loathe building for mobile. It's not that they can't do it, but it's the not the same regarding the type of experience they're trying to build. They want to create an environment for you to behave in, and between mobile and desktop, those can be two completely different worlds.
However, this is not to say that you shouldn't design for mobile at all on a portfolio site, but rather figure out how to make the experience somewhat immersive. While it creates quite the tall task, it could be advantageous to start from scratch on mobile and instead draw up a separate storyboard. Considering the work is already there, changing the medium in which it's delivered could pay off tremendously in terms of showing off your skills, leading to, of course, more work.
The 'Full Story' Site
With how concise content has gotten online, sometimes we forget what it's like to sink our teeth into a good story. After all, with how interactive editorial has grown (especially with tools like Readymag), we're now able to have full-spread features jammed pack with video, parallax, music, gifs, photo, oh, and writing. Stories like these are meant to be told on a larger screen, giving you mobile direction a different look.
Although writing such as interactive editorials or blogs isn't the standard (yet), they're certainly on the rise for content providers to get an edge. Consider these to a similar approach as the portfolio site above, only with a linear narrative involved. The point for these sites is almost always for an engaging source of entertainment, so treat is as such.
For mobile, the limitations provide a crossroads. You could either strip the story down its most bare-bones pieces and structure it as a standard blog post, or you could change the way the story's UX flow continues. Take a look at what pieces you have and think how you want those to be experienced.
We've all had a time where signing up for something on our phones made us so frustrated we wanted just to say "I'm done with it!" and chuck the plastic box against a wall. And while I'm certainly happy you didn't, I sympathize with your pain: a lot of the UX for sign-ups or troubleshooting online is absolutely terrible.
As it's been said 100 times before, poor UX can lead to an abandoned user quicker than it took you to read this sentence. So, take the time to make sure your flow is something you'd be willing to go through too. If the thought, "Well, it be might a little annoying, but they'll love my product, so they'll get past it" crosses your mind, just stop right there. Don't do that...ever.
However, I get it. It's easy when we're designing these things to think "oh, they'll just swipe right, swipe right, swipe right; then they're done!", but that's not always the case. People have less patience on their phone, which is why one-click onboarding (such as Sign Up with Facebook, Google, etc.), have come so immensely popular.
Overall, the design of your mobile is going to be one of the biggest cursors to if people are willing to come back or not. Take the time to do it right, and your retention will go through the roof.