Mobile usage is at an all time high and when you look around and take note, you will see everyone around you is on a mobile device. Standing in the shopping line, on the plane, waiting to be picked up at the cafe; simply everywhere you look mobile devices are being used and yet many businesses are failing to recognise the necessary to design for the mobile first.
For the last few years smart phones (mobile devices that are capable of running native or web-based applications) have been outselling desktop PCs and that trend will continue as more tablet devices are brought to market. This is requiring a complete rethink of businesses’ online marketing priorities.
In developing for desktops two main factors influenced the design: browser capability and monitor resolution. For many years Internet Explorer 6 was the baseline in capabilities and a fixed maximum display width of 800 and later 1024 pixels was the accepted standard for a site design. This has now changed where the most common display resolution of a mobile device is a tiny 320 pixels in width. Designing websites as if they were a fixed size printed brochure simply doesn’t provide an adequate experience for mobile users, forcing them to scroll horizontally and zoom in and out to read text or navigate.
What is now required is a rethink of how site content appears to visitors regardless of the device they use. For a start, the idea of providing the same pixel-perfect content and layout consistently across all devices or browsers needs to be discarded. In the mobile world this is simply an impossible goal. Instead the design layout should adapt; shaping and flowing to display the content optimally for the capabilities of the device.
In targeting smartphone users, this may mean getting your message across with as little words, images and scrolling as possible to obtain the desired outcome; whether a direct phone call, email or contact or feedback via an online form. As the device’s display resolution increases additional or complimentary content can be dynamically displayed and the layout adapted; not just to a set fixed width but actually take advantage of wide screen monitors.
Taking a mobile web approach to both the design and the content makes this goal achievable and ensures you reach all users regardless of where they are located and what device they are using.