The future isn’t Mobile its Responsive!

Believe it or not “mobile” the umbrella name for smartphone and tablet technology, is not the future for webmasters we believe it to be. In fact netizens need to except that web-enabled technology will be in many different sized devices beyond what we currently understand as computers.

We have all heard that mobile design will be big in 2013, and if smartphone sales are anything to go by (shipments rising to 1 billion a year according to Deloitte), then the outlook is good for websites that are optimized for mobile content. “Affiliate window” just produced a great infographic published on their blog describing the gathering pace of mobile and tablet technology.

The summary is; that the penetration of smartphones in the UK has massively increased in the last 18 months and tablets appear to be following in their footsteps. This increase in usage, of course, means eCommerce sales through mobile devices has also risen. Which naturally means webmasters are scrambling to develop technology to better optimise for mobile, track mobile traffic trends and improve UX for this “on the go” generation.

Advertisers are embracing this technology although conversion rates for mobile adverts have some catching up to do to their desktop ‘big brothers’. The efforts of online retailers however are having a much greater effect with gifts, footwear and travel sites showing a positive increase in conversions.

Apparently, group buying has been a very popular online transaction for mobile consumers, but I wonder to what effect the novelty factor around “GroupOn” along with a strong mobile app has had on this statistic.

Email marketers reading this infographic will certainly have something to chew on as the publisher “Ve Interactive” shows email read rates on mobile devices sits between 15 – 20%. This statistic confirms reading emails to be one of the most popular reasons for checking a smartphone (Social media outranks this significantly). As designers wrestle with creating responsive web design, so to must direct marketers consider how their email marketing messages will be viewed by the multi-varied spawn of screens that are the growing choice of the always connected “C” generation.

A figure that is unlikely to shock the “Cult of Mac” is that the growth rate of Android traffic and sales in the last year alone is massive, no thanks to the startling lack of innovation from Apple but also due to the flood of tablet and smart device technology taking advantage of the Android OS, which seems to be popping up on a myriad of different devices like a smartphone pandemic.

The affiliate window mobile and tablet sales is a great measure of how 2013 is performing. With their one-millionth sale this year happening in March, 5 months earlier than in 2012 when it happened in August.

I look at the graph depicting the rise of mobile and tablets and wonder for how long we will discriminate or decide what a “mobile” is and what a “tablet” is?

I see commuters using giant smartphones like the ‘galaxy note 2’ with a 5.55″ display against their ears, and others happily working away on a 7” tablet computer like the ‘nexus 7’ . As the two devices blend into each other and grow larger, as Sony’s VAIO Tap20 with its 20” screen shows. The future of web design will have less focus on devices and more focus on resolutions. Enter ‘Responsive design’ for multiple screen sizes

In a great infographic on responsiveness, Splio defines the current breakpoints that define the “resolutions” (not the devices) that are currently used by the “mobile” market.

Essentially this means webmasters who have previously had a “m.” site as well as a www. are in for a shock as users demand more flexibility, its simply not enough to have a mobile-friendly site anymore. Websites must be responsive for any device, at any resolution and even be able to deal with an orientation flip, from horizontal to vertical or vice-versa.

So in summary, when asking a web developer if your website is “mobile-friendly” you need to ask if it is a “responsive design” for multiple resolutions.

Another “multi-screen” design issue is “clicks” and “hovers” but that can wait for another post.

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