When the internet first arrived and became used more and more, the understandable focus was on websites for desktop computers. At that point in time, anyone who did have access to the internet was likely to be viewing web pages and online content on a desktop or perhaps a laptop. As technology has evolved, from desktops being ubiquitous and cornering the market in terms of how people were surfing the web, as it used to be called, more and more laptops were in common usage.
But then came the mobile device. Even then, if you think back to the Blackberry, early versions of mobile phones such as Nokia, they were neither designed nor able to be used for accessing the internet. With billions of mobile phones, tablets, and hand-held devices now used around the world, it is hard to recall the time when websites were designed and optimised for desktops only, but how far we have come. Though we still use desktops and, more often laptops, the statistics show that increasing number of people, especially the younger generations, are using smartphones and tablets for most of their online activity.
Mobile devices, be they iPads, tablets, or smartphones are long past the phase of being used for taking calls, their original sole purpose. We now use them for everything from watching television to writing articles, personal banking to helping us remember the name of the best songs used in movies we have seen, and so much more in between. So, with this in mind, should website design now have a firm focus on the mobile versions of a website, delivering the same quality and functionality that can be found on the associated desktop version?
Functional Equality: Ensuring Mobile Sites Allow Full Usability
When you think of the number of people now carrying a mobile device, it may be easy to forget how much people rely on them. According to the latest statistics, we are now seeing over half of all global internet access and online activity done on mobile devices. Yes, you read that correctly, mobile internet usage has now overtaken and surpassed online website visits from desktop computers. Even that statistic should highlight how critical it is for companies and businesses with online presence to prioritise the quality of their mobile websites.
The expectation that a mobile site should deliver the exact same user experience and functionality, if not more, is now common. It could even be the case that many people not only prefer mobile access, but they also only use it. Developers and web designers are increasingly developing websites and content that is primarily designed around the mobile experience, interface, and functional capacity. Put another way, companies are taking what is called a ‘mobile first’ approach to their online content.
Social media is a classic example of mobile device usage more than anything else. More and more, social media is now being used as a primary platform by marketing departments and, in tandem, this marketing drive is being focused on delivery to mobile users and devices. This means that any campaign directed at the mobile user should allow any engagement to be done on their mobile device. It would indeed be odd if a call to action meant a potential consumer had to leave the device you connected with them on to access full site functionality, which is precisely the point: functional equality across all mobile and desktop sites should now be standard, and of paramount importance to any design and development team.
How The Future of Online Success Will Be Drive by Mobile Site Design
For any business that has an online presence the bottom line is often decided, or at least shaped by the quality of the user experience. A gorgeous and spectacular looking site is only as good as the functionality it provides and allows, and with so much competition for, and choice given to consumers, this matters more than ever. It would seem, and this is increasingly hard to deny, that online businesses from Amazon to your local boutique shop are now creating entire business plans around the performance and projected success of their mobile site experience.
When holiday firms such as Expedia started, they focused on their desktop version. Now, you can book the same trips, excursions, hotels, and flights on their mobile site and app, as the younger generation sees this as the only way to go, and this is just one example of how the future looks. Having a mobile responsive version of your main site is now no longer a luxury or an afterthought, it is essential for the future of online business success. If you don’t have a fully functional mobile site, your competitor may, making you one click away from losing that consumer forever. It’s that cut and dry in some ways.
Circling back to the original point of this piece, prioritising the mobile user interface is now critical from the start. From the first idea to the web design team and the collaboration with back-end developers and coders, the focus should be on how you deliver your content, products and services to a mobile savvy audience. Failure to focus could hurt your bottom line and in business, nobody wants that.