It’s pretty well understood that the various web browsers out there aren’t quite all on the same page when it comes to handling code that we designers give them. But generally – with the exception of IE ( Internet Explorer) most of them are pretty close. It used to be that we would design a site for one browser and then have to go through and add “hacks” to try and make the code work on each one of the other 4 or 5 main browsers. Mostly (Oh, blast you IE!) those days are gone and as designers – we breathe a sigh of relief and laugh about how bad the “good ol days” were.
But with one set of issues mostly resolved – comes an entirely new issue to focus on; rather than worry about how your website looks from browser to browser – the focus is now on how your website looks from device to device. Some people will view your site on their HD TV, others on a pair of desktop monitors, some on a single older PC monitor and still a host of others on various laptop, tablet and phone configurations.
A really interesting tool is the gs stat counter. These folks gather and compile statistics on Internet usage trends based on over 15 billion page views per month of over 3 million webpages. Doing a filter of “Mobile vs Desktop” in “Canada” for the last 5 years or so (December 2008 to April 2013) gives you a very telling result. The percent of users who viewed websites on a desktop in that period dropped from nearly 100% to about 89% and at the same time mobile users in 2008 comprised less than 1% of all web traffic but as of April 2013, that number was up to 10.4%. (http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_vs_desktop-CA-monthly-200812-201304)
That may not sound like a huge chunk to you but two things are important to factor in – first that’s 10.4% of 15 billion! (that’s 150 million mobile page views in April 2013). Second is not just the raw data to take into account but the trend. Users are starting to use their phones and tablets to view what once they could only do so at home on their computer like never before. Here’s a couple other facts to support this trend:
PC Sales dropped in 2012 for the first time in 11 years.
One of the key reasons? The “proliferation” of mobile devices. ( Incidentally worldwide PC sales were approximately 350 million units – keep that in mind when you read the next point)
Apple sales of mobile devices rose higher than ever in 2012.
Got that – Apple alone ( not Blackberry or Samsung or Nokia or any of those) sold over 183 million mobile devices in 2012.
Take a guess at the worldwide sales figure for mobile devices (adding all those other manufacturers). I was astounded too. 1.75 billion units.
Comparing those numbers: 350 million to 1.75 billion and factoring in the decreasing costs of mobile devices, better functionality, cheaper data costs and increasing transfer speeds – you can only come to one conclusion – the web stats are bound to follow. Mobile represents a growing segment of internet usage and the potential for further growth, based on the numbers above, is incredible.
So, all that means what?
Well, from our perspective (and it should be yours too) it means we need to start making sure your websites look good and work well on not just large desktop monitors but on tablets and phones as well. It’s more than just do they show up on a mobile device – it’s how do they look, feel and function on a mobile device as well as on the desktop. The industry is still in a state of flex regarding how to do this but the clear leader in solving the issue is currently what is called “Responsive Web Design” (RWD). A few years back a guy named Ethan Marcotte coined this phrase and laid out his ideas on how it should work and what it means. http://alistapart.com/article/responsive-web-design
To summarize his article we need to rethink every aspect of web design and make use of certain technologies that allow us to design sites in such a way that there is just one design – with varying sets of styling rules that allow the site to respond to the user’s device. Mobile views that are just 320px wide should be able to give the user just as functional and just as beautiful a web experience as large desktop monitors.
It requires a lot of forethought and planning as we think through the usage and come up with a design. It is quite a bit of extra coding, and a lot more testing. But we think its well worth it. It’s why we’ve recently started offering RWD as an option for every site we build. With the mobile usage trend just really getting started, we think its crazy not to start “responding” to those trends now with changes to your new website design.
Want to learn more, or see how your website could look nicer, function better and get you improved results – no matter what device your audience is using? Call us today at 306-586-6118. We’d be glad to sit down and walk through what all this means for your business!