Mobile-optimized websites aren’t the platform of the future. In fact, we should probably stop talking about “mobile” and “desktop” sites altogether, and call it what it is: a website.
Two years ago, everyone was talking about “adaptive vs. responsive design”, and “why you need to be mobile-friendly” (we even made an infographic!) but things have changed since then…
The truth is, device agnostic is the only way to think about a website. Device agnostic? That means your website should look and feel great on: tablets, smartphones, laptops, netbooks, desktops, big screen TVs, movie theaters, smart-watches and every other manner of hardware wearable-tech-gurus are soon to dream up. Through analytics you may know what devices the majority of your audience is using, but what happens in between—in the cracks.
The proof is in the numbers. The internet has changed since Windows XP was released. The internet went mobile and hasn’t turned back. These days, over 50% of North Americans own some sort of smartphone. Emarketer reported that in 2013, over 73% of worldwide internet users accessed the web via their mobile phones. If this trend snuck up on you, no worries: mobile web adoption grew (and is still growing) 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
That’s just the internet accessed by smartphones. You also have to consider the plethora of other connected devices people can and do use to access your site. The tablet market for example has exploded in recent years; in fact, Business Insider reported that in 2013, 6% of the global population, that’s 1 in every 17 people, owned a tablet—that number is only growing. This is having a tangible impact on how people access the internet too, with the Global Web Index reporting 29% of global internet users connecting via tablets in late 2013. Don’t forget about all those other internet connect devices: for instance, 11% of internet users used Smart TVs and 7% used e-book readers to connect to the internet worldwide in the same study — this may seem like a small percentage, but 11% of the global internet using population is nothing to sneeze at.
Wow! read that again—this metric, recently released by Shopify is no longer the prediction of an agency sales guy, it is fact. Your mobile experience is actually more important than your desktop experience.
There’s more—the phenomenon of the smartphone as a consumer companion. Like it or not phones are an extension of the human body, relied on by consumers for inspiration and research. For example, Digital Buzz reported that 41% of people have browsed for a product after seeing it in a show or advertisement.
Phones are more than conduits for your responsive online store, they are essential to the modern shopping experience. According to the annual search report by Google, consumers use phones to search (it is Google) along every stage of the purchasing process. The breakdown is as follows
This doesn’t all happen in the digital ether, in fact, Jessica Lee from Search Engine Watch found, using Google’s data, that ⅓ of local searches on smartphones occur right before consumers go to a store. Then, while they’re in the store, 15% of a consumer’s activities involve searching for a product or making a product comparison using their smartphone. If your website isn’t easily accessible and navigable (read: clean, unobtrusive user-interface) then do you really expect modern consumers to us it? What if they can do on-the-go research with ease on your competitor’s site?
By now, you’re probably feeling one of two things: (1) you’re feeling smug because you already have a device agnostic website, or (2) you’re freaking out because your website is desktop only, or is only optimized for mobile. Worry not, there is hope yet.
Whether you’re due for a full site redesign, or just need a mobile site to compliment your existing one, you’ve got options. Namely, either a responsive or adaptive site: for more details on the difference between them check out our Adaptive vs. Responsive comparison. Ultimately, desktop only, and even mobile only sites are the past...
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