Mobile Friendly Website and the Big Debate
It is a common practice among designers to focus on designing and developing a desktop version of a website and putting their best foot forward while doing so, caring a little for its mobile version. They still treat mobile version of a website as something of a luxury that a website can enjoy only once the desktop version is up and running. Though responsive design is on the rage, most designers still start the day with the desktop version and when they are done with it, they start cutting down on the excess in an effort to create the mobile version. As obvious, these mobile sites are basically water-down version of the full size desktop website and therefore, these mobile websites fail to meet the expectation of the users.
However, for good or bad, things are changing. We are at the threshold of witnessing a rare trend where designers are starting with less and then enriching the experience, adding more elements and surprises as the design like on wordpress ecommerce website starts adopting bigger and more sophisticated devices. This idea may sound highly interesting and encouraging but this trend has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Wondering what are they. Well, here they go.
Don’t Call it a Trend Mate, You are disrespecting Mobile Web Design
People still tend to believe that mobile website design is a niche industry and therefore, it should not be treated at par with the regular things like developing a website for desktops that as they say have a universal appeal.
But wait. Mobile web is not the future and it is definitely not the new kid on the block. It is the present. Okay seems like you are in no mood to accept this. Then allow me explain you a few things.
– 25% of people in the United States along use their mobile to browse the web and they do not use any desktop devices for the same.
– Until now 10.9 billion times mobile apps have been downloaded and the number is on the rise.
– There are more than 1.3 billion mobile users and the figure is going to have a shot in the arm soon.
It appears that almost two third of the mobile phones that are being sold recently have the basic facilities to access the internet.
So that clearly means that a significant percentage of your targeted audience will browse mobile version of their website and chances are that they may never ever visit the desktop version of your website.
People are no longer tied to the desktop. They now virtually have the power of the web right in their hands in the form of Smartphone and the good thing about this Smartphone is that they can carry it anywhere they want. It is a global trend and there is not much you can do about it. All you have to do is to develop your skills so that you can face the challenges of coming decades.
Why you need to focus on Building Mobile Friendly Website First
Well, when we say that 25% of users use mobile devices to browse the web, we are invariably accepting the fact that there are as much as 75% of users left who trust their good old desktops to browse the web. So, that means, it makes perfect sense to have both the versions unless you do not mind losing out these precious 2/3 section of your targeted audience. So, putting the desktop version of the website to rest does not make any sense here.
Web designers are aware of this fact, but still they are rooting for ‘mobile first’ approach. Probably they have drawn inspiration from minimalist web design trend.
Mobile First or Mobile Friendly
Well, there is a huge difference between these two approaches ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile friendly’. In ‘mobile friendly’ approach, fluffy designing elements are trimmed down and content is scaled down to a great extent to make it easier for the website to render precisely in small devices. So, you may agree or not, but you do make compromises on a wide range of factors while you try to design a mobile friendly site by taking out elements from the main desktop version.
But this is not the case with ‘Mobile First’ approach. Here designers start with designing mobile version first. This is a unique designing approach where the designer develops a website with bare essentials. A super simple yet sophisticated design tailored for mobile devices that do not have huge processing power and do not offer any kind of support to the plugins. The outcome would be impressive and cool. And as the demand arises, you would be adding more elements in it to make it appear more interesting, engaging and appealing. It will cater to those devices that have immense processing power and have fewer restrictions.
And the Big Downside
I know you feel energetic to follow the trend of Mobile First. But my friend, it is not that easy. There are some fundamental differences between the concept of ‘Mobile First’ and ‘mobile friendly’ or ‘responsive web design’. In minimalist approach, you would not necessarily have to constrain your creative impulse. What you rather have to do is to get rid of those elements that do not serve any useful purpose. And when you are designing something for all the available devices, you have got some cool tools to play with. In short, ‘responsive web design’ does not make your toolbox smaller, rather it makes it larger.
But this is not the case with ‘Mobile First’ approach. Here you get struck at the very first stage. You will be struggling with a smaller screen and a bunch of weird issues. You will have to concentrate on how users are going to use the touch screen and the template should have provisions for that like using bigger buttons, fewer use of text links and so on. You could be in this domain for a year or two but you will find it tough to be creative with when the resources are few and far between. If this is not enough, you will find the screen too small to make space for your creation. The problem does not stop here. When you will be asked to design a desktop version from that mobile website, you will again struggle to make the most of the bigger screen and fewer restrictions because you simply do not have the freedom to make deviation from the original mobile friendly version of the website.