Responsive or Mobile Web Design: How Will You Adapt to the Mobile World?
by Josette Millar
The business world and Internet are advancing so quickly that there are huge changes happening nearly every day. One major change is about accessing a website through a mobile device: smartphone or tablet. Most websites require too much bandwidth to open quickly and their layout is not easy to read on mobile devices. If a website is not designed for mobile devices or utilizing Responsive or Mobile Web Design (RWD), visitors will be annoyed and their experience on the website will not be user-friendly.
Tablets are becoming more and more popular every day. In 2011, the Online Publisher’s Association (OPA) found that twelve percent of respondents to a survey owned some form of tablet. By 2012, the OPA found that number had jumped to thirty-one percent. This was a forty-six million person increase in users, nearly tripling in only one year. If tablets are able to add as many users as they did in one year, then there will likely be over one-hundred million tablet users by 2013. Some even predict that there will be 760 million tablets in use throughout the world in 2016. Other researchers predict that by 2015, one-third of Americans will be using tablets. Tablets cannot properly display all websites that a computer does. This means a website owner needs some form of adaptive web design that will allow their website to display correctly on a desktop and a tablet.
Smart-phone use is also currently on the rise, along with the number of people using those phones to access the Internet. In 2011, seventy-six percent of Americans used smart-phones. This trumped desktop usage (forty-nine percent) and laptop usage (fifty-one percent). Numbers were similar in Asian countries. Ninety-six percent of Japanese consumers used smart-phones, while only fifty-eight percent used desktops and sixty-five percent used laptops. These numbers were just those who used the devices. When looking at those who used smart-phones to actually access the Internet, sixty-nine percent of mobile users in the U.S. access the internet daily while eighty-eight percent of Japanese smart-phone owners used it. The number of smart-phone users is expected to increase at a double digit yearly pace until at least 2015. Knowing this data exists is imperative in knowing how to set up a website.
Maximizing Web Design
With the number of smart-phone and tablet users accessing the Internet on the rise, it is vital that website owners make responsive web design be at the root of their design efforts. Almost all major websites have their own mobile sites which ensure consumers can find out about them or make purchases even while they are on the go. Without some form of responsive website, the evolving Internet is not likely to be kind to the website owner. Website owners can set up an entirely different website to be viewed by mobile users. These sites often have an “m.” in front of their name as opposed to a “www.” (m.ebay.com vs www.ebay.com). Conversely, and quite frankly a better option for new websites, is to make an adaptive or responsive website that shows the same HTML design, regardless of the device, but uses different CSS coding dependent on whether it’s a smart phone, tablet device or a laptop/desktop is used. Although I personally believe responsive design is better it is not always the best option for large established websites which may have too many technical errors from modifying CSS code. In a case like that making a separate reduced bandwidth mobile website would be the best option. Both methods ensure that a website can convert between desktop and mobile viewing for a more user friendly experience, and although this all may sound very technical, the underlying issue is that if a mobile user cannot find a website that is easy to view from their mobile device, they are more likely to find another site that is which can have a huge impact on your sales and viewership.
Adaptive or responsive web design is becoming nearly as important as having a website. The Internet is being accessed by more and more mobile users every day, and Google predicts that those using mobile devices will eventually outnumber those using actual computers. Business leaders have had to adapt to radio advertising, television advertising, cable advertising and internet advertising. Unfortunately for many, the evolution of technology did not stop there. Any business owner who does not use the aforementioned modes of advertising for their business will likely not last long, and this will also eventually be true about responsive websites as well.