The Rise of Mobile and the Fate of Desktop
MOBILE HAS TAKEN OVER. ARE YOU READY?
In recent years, the use of mobile devices to search the web has expanded incredibly. According to Smart Insights, 80% of internet users own a smartphone, 47% a tablet, and 37% a game console. This has given rise to a “mobile first” approach throughout the world, from small companies to Fortune 500 companies. This makes it very important for brands to optimize their site’s user interface/experience in order to run efficiently on various existing devices. Today, it is essential for a website to be made with mobile visitors in mind.
SMART INSIGHTS DATA REPORTS THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS:
- 80% of buyers use their phones to shop online and 70% of customers utilize their mobile phones while in stores as well. This means that if you don’t have a mobile friendly site, you could be missing out on the majority of the population and this could affect your business negatively. Compared to five years ago, the amount of time the average consumer spends on the internet via their mobile device has increased extensively.
- 51% of the US population spends more time on their mobile devices as compared to desktop devices. If you are reading this through a desktop, you must be wondering how someone can even attempt to read this article on such a small screen. Well, here’s the thing, they don’t.
WHY MOBILE FIRST?
If you think that a mobile site is just another sales approach, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s not the past or the future, it’s the present and it’s going to stay that way for quite a while. 55% of all online activity happens through a mobile phone. When you share your website to an online networking platform, you should expect more mobile activity, which makes it all the more critical to ensure that your site has a responsive layout for mobile clients. Many sites use CSS media queries and HTML 5 app caches that change screen width and that have the ability to respond to specific browser features that allows the site to continuously modify its interface while providing a seamless experience on desktops and mobile devices.
MOBILE FIRST ISN’T A TREND, IT’S A NECESSITY
As hard as it may seem to believe, eMarketer writers state that over 31 million US internet users will be mobile-only in 2016, which means users rarely ever use a desktop to browse the internet. This is a global phenomenon that will only continue to grow in the coming years. Many businesses recognizing the shift have adopted the “mobile first” approach to make sure their business stays current.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why the “mobile first” approach isn’t dangerous for desktop users. Thanks to responsive design, people can easily optimize their sites to accommodate both desktop and mobile devices. Google has definitely supported the mobile first approach, but they haven’t abandoned desktop… and you shouldn’t either.
RESPONSIVE DESIGN: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN DESKTOP & MOBILE
In a survey conducted by Smart Insights on Mobile Device Statistics, it is clear that desktops/laptops are still the most popular choice for consumers with 91% popularity; but smartphones aren’t that far behind with 80% popularity among the US consumer audience. This makes catering to both desktop and mobile devices extremely crucial.
Having an agile and responsive site that looks great on both mobile devices and desktop devices without the need of separate links is not just a crucial aspect of conducting business online, it may very well be the determining factor of your online success.
WHAT DOES GOOGLE THINK ABOUT A MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITE?
One thing you should know is that Google loves sites that have a single link rather than multiple URLs. These sites rank much higher on Google search results. A site with a responsive layout will accommodate and adapt to many devices, which is essential when designing a site for both desktop and mobile use. Similarly, if your site is only targeted towards desktops or mobile devices, your business will suffer. To help people make their sites as mobile friendly as possible, Google has released a completely new version of their site mobile friendliness checker. Google has changed for the better by including both the desktop and mobile aspects in their process. To retain your ranking on Google, follow these three simple guidelines:
1. MOBILE FRIENDLINESS
How well your visitors enjoy your site’s function and interactive features when they are browsing your site with a mobile device depends on the extent of the mobile design. To be mobile friendly, your site should: be easy to navigate from a small screen, contain interactive functions working exactly like they do on the desktop browser, and have a layout that presents the most important information first.
2. MOBILE SPEED
As the name implies, mobile speed determines how fast or how slow your site opens and operates on a mobile device. As a small business owner, you should be well aware that no visitor waits for more than three seconds for a site to load properly. If it doesn’t load that quickly, they move on to a different site!
3. DESKTOP SPEED
Desktop speed depends on how fast your site loads properly on a desktop device. You should know beforehand that it is not only the internet speed of the user that determines how fast a webpage loads but it also depends upon the elements of the web page.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
DESKTOP WAS, IS, AND WILL BE A NECESSITY
Mobile is definitely on the rise and nothing can stop it. But that certainly doesn’t mean that desktops or laptops should be in any danger. The majority of mobile device users use phones mostly for checking e-mails, entertainment, social platforms and, of course, to play Pokémon GO. This type of usage has lent weight to the “mobile first” design principal. When you compare the various age and occupation groups, the trend of using mobile devices more often is predominately with the younger generation, whereas those with professional careers still use desktops and laptops as their main device to browse the web. As stated before, developers and designers don’t have the same freedom on mobile devices when compared to desktops. In order to accommodate a site on a smaller screen, key aspects and tools have to be removed.
Desktops retain the ability to add richer content around the site margins, which can improve conversions and ROI. According to the 2016 Monetate ecommerce first quarterly report, out of the visitors that started a search via desktop, 99% of visitors converted. On the other hand, out of the visitors that started their search on mobile devices, just 64% converted.
From these statements, we could imagine those sites not being created with the “mobile first” approach in mind. By implementing the “mobile first” approach, the conversions and ROI will increase instantly because mobile device users will experience a mobile friendly interface, which is designed to accommodate gesture navigation, optimized content, native format “form field inputs,” and larger CTAs that ultimately help motivate the user to convert.
Even across the e-commerce sector, desktops and laptops are standing strong and providing far better conversion rates than mobile devices. This means that desktops outdo mobile devices when it comes to online e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Etsy, Ebay and more. Data gained from Monetate shows that the number of users that used the “add to cart” feature and actually converted is much higher for those using desktops versus those using mobile devices. Since most of the online activity time on mobile devices is spent on apps rather than browsers, it becomes hard for e-commerce companies to gain higher conversions and compete with the ones obtained from bigger devices.
AND FOR THE GRAND FINALE
“Mobile first” is the approach to take on any new website project, but is the time of desktops coming to an end? In short, definitely not! Though the use of desktops has decreased due to more people opting for mobile devices, it certainly does not mean that desktop devices can be ignored. Desktop devices are still used by an extremely large audience, which is comprised largely of industry professionals that have a higher chance of converting than someone that owns a smartphone for the single purpose of using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.
In various areas, desktops continue to dominate, especially when it comes to wanting an enhanced graphical user interface as well as being the ideal option for any individual that wants a better ROI. Today, when developing a new site, designers and developers have no need to cut features, cut content, or enlarge interface elements, which can be readjusted through CSS media queries to fit all view ports.
Desktops will likely still manage to make more conversions due to their freedom of design; this could be easily accomplished by implementing interactive effects, which will help to enhance the overall user experience.
Make no mistake, the “mobile first” approach has countless benefits due to the ease of access it presents. “Mobile first” deserves full recognition as being an important aspect of site design, but desktops are still a key aspect of the online consumer experience and will remain so for many years to come.