Mobile internet browsing is on the rise people! As of this posting the number of people browsing the internet from a mobile device is up to 18% vs. a declining 82% browsing from a desktop computer. These numbers are up 6% since this time last year. ~ http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_vs_desktop-ww-monthly-201209-201309
What does this tell us?
Well, plain and simple, as time goes on and mobile devices keep improving we will see these numbers reverse… meaning soon enough it will be 82% browsing from mobile!
How does this relate to web design?
It means that we as web developers really need to take a step back and start planning more for the future of our clients and their online presence(s). Even if it means we have to take a hit to our wallets, there is no reason anymore to delay the inevitable outcome. We need to start planning and designing from the small screen smart phones up instead of the other way around.
Smartphones and tablets have changed the approach toward design and user experience. Before the proliferation of mobile devices with advanced web-browsing capability , web designers had only one primary challenge to deal with – keeping the same look and feel of their websites in various desktop computer browsers.
However, interacting with websites on smartphones and tablets is not the same as doing that on a desktop computer monitors. Factors such as Click versus Touch, Screen-size, Pixel-resolution, support for Adobe’s Flash technology, optimized markup and many more have become crucial while creating websites with Responsive Design
But, why is responsive design so important for your website? Before we understand that, we must understand what is “Responsive Web Design”.
Responsive Web Design by definition is a web design approach aimed at crafting web sites to provide an optimal viewing experience, easy reading, and navigation across a wide variety of devices from mobile phones to desktop computers.
So, Why is it So Important?
Time & Money
The notion that making a responsive website is expensive is just that, a notion. The fact is, while the cost to make a responsive website is somewhat more than making a conventional website, but the expenses to duplicate a website for mobile and other devices gets completely eliminated, as a result – that cuts total development costs, significantly. In addition to that, a responsive design cuts the total ownership cost, by means of taking away the effort to maintain different versions of a website i.e. a “desktop-version”, a “mobile-version”. Thus, in the long term, investing in responsive website design is the smartest decision.
Pervasion of the Mobile Devices
Internet traffic originating from mobile devices is rising exponentially each day. As more and more people get used to browsing the web through their smartphones and tablets, it is foolhardy for any website publisher to ignore responsive web design. The “One Site Fits All Devices” approach soon will be the norm.
While, content is king and discoverability of content are foremost success metrics, it is the user experience that enables visitors to consume content on any website through the device of their choice and preference, anytime. Thus, responsive web design is about providing the optimal user experience irrespective of whether they use a desktop computer, a smartphone, a tablet or a smart-TV.
Responsive Websites are agnostic to devices and their operating systems. A responsive web design ensures that users get the best and consistent experience of a website on any device of the user’s choice and preference – be that the iPhone, the iPad, the smartphones running the Android OS, or the Windows OS and several others. As a result website owners and content publishers can need not exercise the option to build versions of their website for every popular device platform which they expect their audience might be using.
The way ahead
Thus, rather than compartmentalizing website content into disparate, device-specific experiences, it is smarter to adopt the responsive web design approach. That’s not to say there isn’t a business case for separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the user-goals for your mobile content-offering are limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach.
But that kind of design-thinking does not have to be our default. Now more than ever, digital content is meant to be viewed on a spectrum of different experiences. Responsive web design offers the way forward.