Website Users Are Becoming More Mobile. Your Website Should Too.
The Mobile Trend
In the past few years, rapid growth of cloud computing, mobile technologies, and user demand for a more accessible way to browse the Web has brought significant changes to the purposes and elements of modern websites. The Ericsson Mobile Report in November 2013 revealed that there are 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions while Pew Research showed that 90% of Americans with smartphones use them to access the Internet (through May 2013). This paradigm shift has a big impact on businesses that are struggling to stay on top of modern web technologies. At the same time, it creates a great opportunity for quick adapters to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Looking ahead, the same Ericsson report suggests that mobile broadband subscriptions could increase to 8 billion by 2019. The 40% jump in the number of mobile users from 2012 to 2013 means two things: 1) your online audience will increasingly be using mobile devices and, 2) mobile usage, undoubtedly, can surpass desktop usage in the near future. The need for responsive design becomes more critical as more of your users transition into mobile web browsing habits.
The Technology Behind Responsive Design
Recently grown in its popularity and practicality, responsive design is a web design and development technique that responds to a user’s operating environment. Our last blog post on responsive design provided detailed explanation of the technique, in which the website’s structure and framework adapt to factors such as browser size and screen orientation. Responsive design is achieved using a mix of flexible grids, images, and cascading style sheets (CSS) media queries. The CSS detects a visitor’s browser size and orientation, then rearranges the layout appropriately based on either portrait or landscape mode. The CSS also has the ability to hide content that may not be needed on a smart phone but makes sense to have on a lap-or desktop monitor, enabling a more efficient mobile browsing experience for smartphone and tablet users. Responsive design also eliminates the need to configure a separate website specifically for each device: smartphone, tablet, wide screen desktop, etc.
To check if a page utilizes responsive design, try resizing your browser to a tablet or phone dimensions and see if the page automatically responds by configuring its content and format to different browser sizes.
Why Pay Attention to Mobile Users Now?
With the mobile boom came mobile websites. According to Smashing Magazine3, mobile websites are sometimes referred to as “Web lite,” as they only display certain sections and certain content that mobile users perceive as relevant. Smashing Magazine goes on to say that roughly 28% of all smart phone users use their phone as their primary way to access the Internet. If ~28% (and growing) of people are using the mobile web as their primary access, is your organization ready to respond to the trend? How do you prioritize your content to cater to mobile users? What are the differences in desktop and mobile users’ browsing patterns? These are the questions you your organization should consider before starting your web redesign/upgrade project.
With appropriate implementation, responsive design can boost your website performance significantly:
- Increasing website visits from mobile device users
- Bringing valuable content from your website to mobile browsers in a way that accommodates mobile users
- Enhancing website shelf-life
Check out our Responsive Design webinar and read about the Top Three Considerations for Mobile Website Design for more tips and best practices.