It has been projected that by 2014, if current trends continue, there will be more users accessing the internet via mobile web browsing than with a desktop computer. While at first this may seem like an alarming prediction, it only makes sense once you consider the ways in which mobile technology has developed over the past decade. Mobile devices seem to be getting easier to use and more versatile every few months at this point, and there’s not much left that can’t be done on the web using a smart phone or tablet. In order to fully portray the growth of mobile web browsing, here are a few interesting statistics:
There are 1.08 billion smart phones currently in use throughout the world
One half of all local searches conducted on the web are done via a mobile device
Over one third of Facebook’s 600+ million user base uses Facebook mobile
30% of smart phone users have scanned and used web based coupons with their devices
And these are just a few of a long list of impressive facts relating to web activity conducted through a mobile device. As you can see, it is a platform that can’t be ignored (especially since these numbers are only going up!). But don’t look at this as an added challenge for your web design practices, look at it as an opportunity! It has never been so easy to reach this many people, and it has never been done this efficiently.
Creating something that functions and renders well on mobile devices doesn’t need to be a painstakingly long process, which seems to be the reason many agencies have appeared to turn their backs on the mobile phenomenon. The fact remains however, that with a smaller screen and less processing power, browsing with a mobile device will never be done exactly how it is with a desktop computer. Here are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to making sure your website design will maintain its functionality during mobile browsing:
Create a mobile web browsing homepage. The truth is-- you don't absolutely have to build something completely different from the website that will be displayed on desktop computers. Take a moment to consider the ways in which most people use their mobile devices to browse the web. They aren't trying to look through pages on content, the screen isn't big enough for that to be anything but bothersome. Creating a stripped down version of your homepage that will scale properly on a smart phone and present them with what they're looking for (usually a phone number, location, or other contact information) will guarantee that your website is reaching its potential in generating conversions via mobile devices.
Keep things like flash and huge files to a minimum. While all the cool effects that are possible can be pretty impressive, there simply isn’t enough power in mobile devices to display these things properly (yet). Different companies, such as Android and iPhone, have different operating systems that can do different things. This is a primary reason that it’s safer to keep things simple when it comes to mobile design; just because it works on an Android doesn’t mean it will work on an iPhone.
If possible—optimize content for the way mobile browsers are going to see it. Smart phone screens have grown to impressive sizes and have no problem displaying things in HD, but they’re still not anywhere near large enough for someone to enjoy squinting through pages and pages of text. Keep content short and to the point if you’re designing something for a mobile device.
Utilize a feature unique to mobile devices—push to call phone numbers! This feature (that obviously can’t be done on a computer) can be a godsend when it comes to making contact with a customer. It allows mobile web browsers to click on the phone number listed on the site, and instantly engage in a call.
Taking recent trends into consideration, it is safe to assume that the use of mobile devices for web interactions is going to continue growing in popularity. Part of designing a website is critically thinking about who is going to view the site, and how they are going to view it. It’s with this in mind that we suggest devoting some time to developing an efficient process for ensuring that each and every website will shine not only on a desktop computer, but on smart phones and tablets as well.
By: Dana Nevins
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