I recently came across the Pew Internet Project’s research study on mobile devices which stated that “31% of current cell internet users say that they mostly go online using their cell phone, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.” That number has jumped drastically since last year, and there’s every reason to believe that that number will continue to grow.
There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t support mobile when deciding to redesign or design a new website for your business. As Chris Coyier recently stated on CSS-Tricks, “Ignore [these statistics] at your own demise.” Even if your analytics show that you have low mobile traffic, there is no doubt that it will grow as mobile devices continue to dominate the market.
At the start of the mobile craze, most businesses either chose to have a separate mobile website or just let the handheld device display their site as is. There are obvious misfortunes when letting the device show your website in its nature state – the main one being having to zoom in when reading the text or clicking on a link. There are no doubt times when your business might want to have a separate mobile site, but one downside to this approach is having to maintain 2 separate websites.
So, if having a separate mobile site doesn’t fit your needs, what should you do? The answer: Responsive Web Design. A term coined by Ethan Marcotte that simply means, yourwebsite’s layout will change depending on what device is being used to view it. With responsive websites, you will have a mobile, tablet and widescreen website, all in one. All the content that is shown on your website will display on all platforms. Not only will most web-developers recommend responsive design, Google also recommends it for a number of reasons, including SEO.
Responsive Web Design is the most exciting and revolutionary thing to hit web design since CSS. At the moment, it is still in its beginning stages, but many talented designers are continuing to push the limits, showing what responsive design is capable of. Some critics will say that when designing a responsive website, design is comprised due to the supporting of multiple platforms, but this is largely untrue. It depends on the designer. Be sure to challenge the designer you choose to build your website and make sure he or she isn’t comprising your widescreen design just to support mobile. Some of the most successful responsive designs are well strategized and discussed in depth among both developers and clients.
Again, the most important detail to take from these recent studies is that mobile should not be ignored. Talk to your design team and see if responsive web design is right for you.
A few responsive designs to check out:
http://bostonglobe.com/ — Boston Globe
http://neilcarpenter.com/ — Neil Carpenter
http://www.stuffandnonsense.co.uk/ — Stuff and Nonsense
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx — Microsoft