Published: April 29 2012, by John
Do you know many people who don't own a mobile phone? Probably not. At the end of 2011, there were over 6 billion mobile subscribers globally. That amounts to 86.7% of the global population. Mobile subscribers in the Europe actually accounts for almost 120% market saturation. Source.
And according to this report between November 2011 and January 2012, over 52.6% of mobile users in the UK used a smartphone and 50.6% used the smartphone to access the web.
These numbers are an increase of about 74% over the previous year. Assuming this growth of in the smartphone market continues (which is expected), it will be only a short time before almost 100% of mobile phone owners will have a smartphone and be using it to access the internet.
For the last couple of years the web design industry has been putting a great deal of thought into how to present the web to mobile users. And with good reason because while the number of people browsing the web from their mobile phone is already high, it's set to get even higher.
Some will argue that businesses are best served by sending visitors to a mobile specific website. Others argue that you should have just one website and take advantage of new technologies to restructure the layout of the web pages to best suit the size of screen it's being accessed by.
Above is an example of our website for Erin Cox Jewellery. It is built using a responsive technique so a single website is presented differently depending on the screen size.
Ultimately, it's not a black and white issue and the correct decision is dependant on the specific needs of your website, business infrastructure and your users. In general though, at Mekonta, we feel there's a much stronger argument for the single responsive approach, than for the effort of running separate websites.
Whichever option you go for, the important thing is that you consider how your site is performing for your customers who are coming to your website on a mobile phone.
You might look at your web stats and decide the current number of visits from mobile devices doesn't warrant the investment in developing a mobile optimised website. This isn't necessarily a wrong choice - just remember to keeping checking those stats occasionally incase this trend changes.
Alternatively, you might recognise that you could be providing a much better experience to your customers on mobile devices. By offering a really good user experience on mobile devices, you might also be able to attract more visitors and hopefully make yourself much more competitive against other businesses in your sector who aren't offering a well optimised mobile web experience.
The Mekonta website is also responsive, using the same techniques as the Erin Cox website above.
Where to start?
Before thinking about design and layout - sit down and decide what information your visitors will want to access and in what priority. It might be different between mobile and desktop visitors.
As an example, if you have a shop (or chain of shops) - desktop visitors to your website might want to look at your products first of all and then go on to see where your shop is. You might make the decision that a visitor on a mobile is more likely to be out shopping and wants to find the shop address as a first priority.
The same information about products and shop locations is available to users on either desktop or mobile device - but the prioritisation of them can be changed based on different user demands.
You might have a page of products or services on your website that lists 20 or 30 items on a single page. Each item has a preview image and a few lines of introductory text. Making use of the full width of a desktop monitor, these can be displayed in a grid of 3 or 4 columns and be highly usable. On a mobile screen, you will have to shift all items into a single column. And when each item has to include an image and short description, the page might get too long. Users can scroll, but there's a limit as to how much anyone's really going to want to scroll.
Don't deter visitors from accessing your content. Rather look at options such as removing the image or some of the preview text from the category list to make the page shorter. Or only list 10 items per page on mobile devices.
There's a limitless number of possibilities, but the numbers at the top of this article show the potential that's there for your business in making the efforts to give mobile users a considered nd optimised experience on your website.