Having a website that supports mobile devices is vital. For many people a smartphone or tablet is the main (perhaps only) way to access the web. Traditional desktop PC use is in decline, but sales of internet enabled mobile devices are increasing. At the same time the features and capabilities of mobile devices are improving, to the point where it's often preferable to access the web via a smartphone or tablet. It could be argued that the desktop PC wasn't really a ‘personal computer’. The real PC is the phone in your pocket that has always-on internet access, GPS, mapping, camera etc. etc. There will come a time when the vast majority of customers will access your website via a mobile device. Start supporting them now.
The phrase ‘responsive web design’ means creating sites for mobile devices first, then adding support for desktop PCs and other devices with large displays. This is the opposite of the traditional design process and, while it may seem odd at first, actually results in better websites.
Designing for mobile devices forces us to concentrate on the key aspects of the website. A smartphone has a small screen, is accessed in short bursts, possibly with background music or other distractions, all while the user keeps an eye on the surrounding environment. This means your website has to be easy to use. Information must be presented with the minimum of clutter. Unnecessary elements must be hidden. The user interface must be understandable, first-time, without explanation, and should respond intelligently to the display capabilities of the device. By starting from this point we end up with a much simpler, more user–friendly website.
Mobile–first website advantages
- A simpler, more focused website.
- Support for a new, rapidly expanding market of mobile internet users.
- Support for mobile-only capabilities such as location-aware services, cameras, spatial orientation sensors and more.