DesignCast 49: Mobile Web Design Tips & Trends

By: Wes McDowell | November 11th, 2013 | 103 comments

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In this episode, we were lucky enough to have Patrick McNeil, the author of The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book sit down with Wes for a chat about the latest trends in the ever evolving world of mobile web design. We go over the basics of mobile web design methodologies and frameworks, and we discuss the current state of mobile, and why it’s only getting more and more important going forward. We then talk about some of the more popular trends that are emerging in regards to mobile, as well as some important usability concerns that you would want to address in the design process.

Want to win a free signed copy of The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book? We are giving away 4 free copies! Just leave a comment below by Monday, Nov. 18th to be entered to win.

This contest is now closed. Congrats to our 4 winners!


As always, we answer two new listener questions about client holiday gifts, and how to avoid being asked to do valuable web design work at a minimum wage job.

Here are some screenshots from the book, highlighting a few different styles we address in the interview:

Superclean Style

superclean mobile

Minimal Style

minimal mobile

Flax Pixels Style

flat pixels mobile

Atypical Navigation Style


Image credits: The above images are from The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book by Patrick McNeil. ©2013, HOW Publishing. All rights reserved.

Show Links:

OvernightPrints Use promo code DGDESIGNCAST for deep savings on any order.

103 Responses to DesignCast 49: Mobile Web Design Tips & Trends

  1. Micah Hansen says:

    Hey Wes, love the show! Please enter me in the drawing for the free mobile web design book.

  2. Jose Galue says:

    I will love one of these books, also i love the show. Thank you

  3. Tim Morrison says:

    Woooohoooooo!!! Put me down for a book!!!!

  4. Gabby michel says:

    Hi guys, once again…great episode. I do have my collection of his reg web books and i love them def need to get this one.

  5. Jeff Napadow says:

    Hey gang, keep up the great work. I’m glad I found your podcast. I’m already implementing some new ideas. Put me down for the book!

  6. Ricardo Diaz says:

    I would love to have the book. I’m a huge fan of this series

  7. James Lucas says:

    I have been a graphic designer for over 20 years and still learn stuff from your podcast. Thanks for all of your hard work. I would love to receive the book.

  8. Mark Jackson says:

    Awesome podcast. This was my favorite so far.

  9. Awesome podcast today!! I subscribe and listen right when they come out. Currently I’m working on improving my clients mobile prescience… It would be awesome if you could send a signed copy my way!! 😀

    Best wishes from Northern California,

    Joshua Barton
    Barton Designs

  10. Sarah says:

    Thanks for another great episode. Please enter me in the drawing for Patrick McNeil’s new book.

  11. Marc Roderick says:

    Just stumbled on your podcast a few weeks ago. Absolutely loving it. I would also love a copy of the book.;)


  12. Stu says:

    Another fantastic episode. Who wouldn’t want a free book? I certainly do! Good luck everyone.

  13. Brianna Allison says:

    Love your show, and this interview was great. Thank You!

  14. Dave says:

    I will be checkin out your podcasts and I cant wait to get my hands on that book to

  15. Alan says:

    Great episode, love the show.

  16. Phil says:

    Hi everyone. I listen to every episode since discovering it earlier this year. While i am personally not a graphic designer, i sell websites and marketing services and serve as a liaison on projects between client and design / development team. It seems like virtually every episode, you broach topics that are timely – and by having three opinions – offer nuanced approaches to managing clients as well a particular medium. Mobile is most certainly an essential component of all development work now – as most all clients are expecting their sites to work perfectly on all screens. however, when there is dynamic, database driven content – like in real estate – or custom e-commerce solutions required, it’s not always so clear whether one should use a responsive approach to the original site or build a separate mobile one. This episode was certainly helpful because when you hear other professionals discuss the confounding factors, it provides more conviction that there really isnt an exact map, but rather a compass from which to guide your decision making. The piece about navicons was particularly helpful, especially since many sites we encounter are large and full of excess pages and copy.

    One suggestion for a future episode or even just a listener questions is your take on is landing page conversion and whether you’ve worked with any of these optimization strategies while working with seo firms or other agencies that specialize in sales / squeeze pages. Oftentimes, the ones Ive researched or receive info on when opting in to their email funnel look jarring and cheap – though if they do in fact work in terms of image and content placement – could be duplicated albeit enhanced in a more fashionable way.

    Anyhow – keep up the great work! I feel your collective pain on all the PITA client stories but more importantly, your show helps me sharpen the lens from which a designer looks at clients / project work, which in turn helps me work better with both the client and graphic designers.

  17. Scotty says:

    Great episode. I love the Idea books, and I always enjoy hearing from the creator of something about what it meant to them. I’d be thrilled to win one of the Mobile Idea books.

  18. Love the show, interesting conversation. It feels like web is always playing catchup because the second it’s online is the second it’s out of date.

  19. Andrew Raby says:

    great show the interview was awesome keep up the good work

  20. Joe Chavez says:

    Hi Wes! I would love to win the free mobile book!
    Keep up the good work I love the show!

  21. I hope I win. I submitted an idea for the book. I hope it is included.

  22. Travis says:

    I have a few of Patrick’s other books. They are great! Please enter me for an opportunity to win this one.

  23. Stuart Ridgway says:

    I’d love a copy of the book please (feel cheeky asking!)

  24. Arun says:

    Great interview. The screenshots look great too.

  25. Quoc Nguyen says:

    It was an interesting interview!

  26. Steffan says:

    I ordered my The Web Designer’s Idea Book Vol3 after catching up on your podcasts, and now I’m itching to take a look at the mobile one. The company that I’m working with have just gone past the 100 apps in the app store mark, which is big news for us, so it would be great to make the next 100 even more inspiring with some help from the mobile book.

  27. Manny Jasus says:

    Great podcast! Please enter me in the free book contest as well.


  28. Lilia says:

    Would be grateful to get the free copy of your book! Thanks for the chance! And luck to everyone!

  29. NoelMcG says:

    Would lov a copy of the book, great podcast as well, cheers!!

  30. Jabran Shakil says:

    I want to win once in my life, dammit!! Lol

  31. Madhu Sharma says:

    This book looks excellent. Can’t wait for the release.

  32. Donna says:

    Excited about the release of the new book! Please enter me in the free book contest!

  33. vilaysith says:
    My Kindle library is waiting for The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book :)

  34. Peter Pop says:

    Love your books!

  35. justin says:

    Great podcast. Looking forward to adding this book to my collection.

  36. Junsheng Cheng says:

    Nice snapshots! Looking forward to it.

  37. Great podcast! Hope to win a book! If not I’ll probably still buy one 😉

  38. steph curran says:

    Please enter me into the drawing!! I love these books!

  39. Alex says:

    Great Idea!
    I would like to read your book!

  40. Thoroughly enjoyed the previous iterations of the ‘web designers idea book’ so sure this will be the same, great for times of ‘designer block’!

  41. Carrie says:

    Congrats on the new book! It looks AWESOME 😀

  42. Vicki says:

    I learn a lot from your books, would love to win the latest!

  43. Stasy Meclazcke says:

    It’s a really good book to inspire designers (as well as developers) on how to make a really good looking site. Some of the examples in the previous books inspired me to make my site look good like this: . I literally use the book everyday.

  44. First time listening and I’m glad I found the podcast.

    I would love to win The Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book as I am currently involved with a few mobile projects right now.


  45. Scott Kasallis says:

    The WDIB series is a great resource, the mobile edition should be just as valuable!

  46. I’m a big fan of Patrick since the Design Meltdown and The Daily Slurp. I’m pretty sure that the book will be amazing.

  47. Looking forward to the new collections!!!

  48. Nancy Wu says:

    A book like this is perfect, and just in time! (Please pick me thanks!)

  49. Brandon Reader says:

    New book looks great! Definitely a good resource for modern mobile design.

  50. John Collins says:

    love this book series and can’t wait to see their take on the mobile market!

  51. Rae says:

    Congrats on the new book! Looking forward to some new inspiration. :)

  52. Michelle says:

    Would love to win a copy of the book! Count me in! I can always use fresh ideas and inspiration for my next web project. Thanks for the contest.

  53. Jhona says:

    brilliant show everyone! it’d be a great opportunity to get one of those books ae

  54. Erin O'Toole says:

    Thanks Patrick, nice talk, great points about mobile and design.

  55. David says:

    I’d love to get a copy of that book and all his other books while I’m at it :)

  56. silvia says:

    I have the other books ~ wanna get the mobile web design book!! : D

  57. This is awesome :)
    I want to win this book!
    *crossing fingers*
    And good look to all of you!

  58. Phil Appenzeller says:

    Definitely need this one for my collection! Please put me down for a copy!


  59. Annabelle Foo says:

    Great podcast, I found it really interesting and informative.

    Looking forward to the release of the Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book! Would love to get a copy of it!

  60. Ashley says:

    Got the Web Designer’s Idea Book after you guys recommended it and I LOVE it. Would love to get to check out this one as well! So cool to hear from the author.

  61. Elizabeth Hossain says:

    I can’t wait for my copy of the Mobile Web Designer’s Idea Book.

  62. Love the books, Patrick! My agency was actually listed in your Web Ideas Book Vol 2. I’d love a copy of your new book!

  63. Tucker Joenz says:

    These books are a must for anyone working with websites, getting inspiration for websites or wanting to get a look at what is good practice for personal sites. I have been grabbing these books since they started and use them religiously. I have even had a few places I contract with order them for their staff to get inspiration :) Keep them coming!

  64. Yasmine says:

    Would love a copy!

  65. Brandy Montague says:

    Love your podcast and eagerly watch for it every time a new one comes out. This interview with the author was fantastic. Please enter me into the drawing for a free copy of the book too. Thanks!!

  66. Very nice books with lots of inspiration. Would really like to win a copy.

  67. Wilbur says:

    Oh wow, I will have to make a point of coming here more often and also acquiring that book will be legend!

  68. Amit Khera says:

    would Love to have a copy of this & winning a free one would be icing on cake :)

  69. Pete Jones says:

    I’ve been building responsive sites for a while now and I’ve been looking for a decent podcast. Looks like I’ve found a good podcast and also an opportunity to get a free book in the process!

  70. Sasa Huzjak says:

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this new one, I’m sure it will be a blast, just like the other ones 😉

  71. Claire Hahn says:

    I would love to win that book :-)

  72. Paul Brown says:

    Looking good! Great idea!

  73. Enrico says:

    Great insights about mobile apps as a whole. I normally lump them in with ‘apps for mobile devices’ without thinking about it, but it really is its own beast.

  74. How have I never heard of this guy? I am currently studying interactive design and would love to have this book to improve my studies and get some inspiration.

  75. Brandon says:

    Always excited for a new Mcneil Book, the best visual examples of good website content!

  76. Ben Lamb says:

    Great stuff – enter meeee!

  77. David says:

    Hey Guys,

    Love the show! Always a good source of inspiration! I hope to win one of the books. If not I’m always a fan. Keep it up!

    David Pineda

  78. Brian Lopes says:

    Wes love your show all the way from Hawaii, just recently discovered it on iTunes. Great content and guest. Please enter me in one of those books. Thanks.

  79. Fabian_P says:

    Great session, Wes I give you credit for asking great questions and keeping the interview flowing nicely. keep the great work up!!!


  80. Nate says:

    Could always use more reading / inspiration, a new book would be awesome!

  81. June Nylin says:

    Great preview shots from the book – looking forward to seeing it soon!

  82. Najomie says:

    How exciting !

    From Montreal, Canada, I would LOVE to win one of these.
    This book would be super useful !

    Good luck everyone :)

    And great show team !

  83. Sheelah says:

    Would love to get a copy of this for more web design ideas :)

  84. Michelle says:

    Hi Wes! I love listening to your show!! would love to win this book to help me to learn and improve mobile design!

  85. Derek says:

    Hey Wes! Love the podcast. I wish you did it more frequently! Throw my name in the drawing bowl would ya?!

  86. Love these books and the interview was great. Thinking winning thoughts! :)

  87. AJ says:

    Great show, wish the interview audio quality was better but still great info. Thanks!

  88. Love the show, especially the ones with Sam. Keep ’em coming!

  89. LilianaS says:

    I love mobile design, Hope to win a book! :)

  90. Karen says:

    This year I’ve just started getting my hand into mobile and responsive web designs for our company, and I would love to win for one of the copy to crave for my inspiration bugs :) thanks Wes. Love your show as always!

  91. Jennifer M. says:

    This would be awesome to win!

  92. Eric Robinson says:

    You guys are awesome! I recently got a full time job at a design firm, mostly doing web design, and i attribute a lot of my knowledge that got me the job to things i have learned and best practices learned from the show!

    Thanks so much for the podcast!


  93. Brittany says:

    Love the podcast – great inspiration! Count me in to win!

  94. Daniel says:

    This looks awesome, really craving to have one copy of that book, I really don’t have a lot to book because I only buy the ones that I know I’ll be using continously… and this one seems to be like that….

  95. Pauline says:

    Already have one of Patrick’s other book, would love to win the mobile book.

  96. Otto Graf says:

    I have two Patrick’s books. I find them interesting and a great overview.


  97. Kiw Ajibo says:

    Would love to win on of your books, since the other ones have been lovely :-)

    / Kiw

  98. Airrick Dunfield says:

    Love the show. I listen to it on my way to school most days, gets me excited about design.

    – Airrick

  99. Shelly Page says:

    Thanks for the dose of down to earth design chats and inspiration. I’ve been a listener since day one!

    Thanks guys.

  100. Jason Johnson says:

    Hey folks! I only just started listening to the podcast today so, sorry for the lateness of this comment.

    Thanks for reading the listener question about how to tell your employer you can’t do design work for them for the same minimum wage rate they pay you to make signs etc.

    I wanted to add that depending on the jurisdiction it’s possible that what the employer is asking for may not even be legal.

    I had a similar experience about a year ago. After doing some research I learned that in Oregon, where I live, it’s against the law for a business to contract out work of any kind to a current employee.

    I was able to use that information to get out of an employer/client relationship that had turned surprisingly unpleasant. On a more positive note, that knowledge has also helped me negotiate a two-year web design contract.

    So I guess my 2¢ for someone in this situation would be to tell your employer that you don’t feel comfortable accepting minimum wage for work you typically bill out at a much higher rate. Maybe offer your employer a discounted rate? You know, considering the outstanding work you do for them, the great relationship and employer/employee trust already built… definitely saves the business time and money as opposed to investing time and effort to hire an outside designer.

    I’m really enjoying the show! Thanks and keep up the great work!

  101. TJ says:

    Flax Pixel style? That was new to me until Patrick spoke of “Flat Pixel style”.

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