It's a fact that most website visitors are now accessing the web using a small screen device such as a smartphone or tablet, so doesn't it make sense to design your website for these devices as a priority over laptops and PCs?
There's a fast growing trend to flip the traditional way websites are designed and built on its head by thinking Mobile First. Mobile First does of course present different challenges when designing a website. So what might some of these be?
Firstly we need to change the way we think about mobile internet, this not a fad that will fizzle out, this is not the future of the web, this is right now and it's huge. Vast amounts of data are transferred across mobile networks every minute of everyday, whether people are looking up businesses, web surfing, seeking directions, catching up on Social Media, sharing photos, watching catch up TV, the list goes on and on.
So ask yourself; Is this going to stop any time soon? Are people going to be quick to give up this way of consuming and creating content?
Another staggering fact is this, many people will only ever see the mobile version of your website!
The internet is no longer that thing we use when we get home or to the office, it is in our hands, bags, vehicles and back pockets, and current trends would suggest this is only set to grow. If you are a website owner it makes sense to ensure that you offer a platform that is as inclusive and offers the best user experience as possible no matter how your visitors view your content.
A major factor was an announcement by Google way back in 2010 that mobile was going to be the answer to everything, and Google have certainly backed this up with action. Not only are they producing their own smartphone and tablet hardware but more crucially they are now serving up mobile friendly search results to users of their search engine, as well as continuing development of the mobile platform for Youtube, and before you roll your eyes it's worth remembering Youtube is one of the largest search engines on the web in its own right, and no matter how simple a channel you may have it is a fantastic resource for being found online.
It's not just Google, big business is putting smartphone technology at the centre of their products. If you look at all the major hardware producers they all put a huge amount of R&D into mobile devices, not only Phones and Tablets but also other whizzy little add ons like TV streaming Dongles, bluetooth speakers and many more. Camera makers produce apps the can control, view and upload pictures from your camera wirelessly, carmakers are adding mobile integration to their vehicles that control specifically designed apps, such as Car Play, Android Auto and Alexa. Mobiles maybe small but their impact is big.
Traditional mobile sites tended to be cut down versions of the desktop website with technologies and graphical items removed as they were either to heavy for the processing power of a mobile device, it was difficult get everything on the small screen or were to big and data hungry for use over a mobile network. Then there is the Touchscreen, different devices deal with website elements, such as menus, in different ways. Responsive website design has gone a long way to alleviate these issues by helping designers to create a simple and easy user experience, however the trend is still to build a desktop site first then cut back on functionality for mobile devices.
By taking the Mobile First approach a lot of these factors are overcome early in the project, it will also have the added bonus of offering the same user experience on all platforms. Browser compatibility is converging all the time, the popular browsers now offer support for the vast array of website technologies in use today, so by designing your website with lightweight yet powerful functionality that runs smoothly on smartphones and tablets you can be more confident of these functions working on larger more powerful laptops and PCs. This is not always the case if you reverse the process.
Will you think Mobile First when it comes time to upgrade your website? You probably should.
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