All Web Design is Mobile Design — How to Evolve in the Mobile Era

Posted by Kate Jurras on Fri, Mar 16, 2012

This is the fifth post in our UX and design blog series. Throughout the month of March we'll be featuring posts from some of Boston's most expert thought leaders, answering these questions: "How do you see the field of UX/design changing in the new technology landscape? What’s most important to know now?” This post is by Scott Kiekbusch, Sr. User Experience Architect at enterprise mobile solutions consultancy, Mobiquit. Scott has over a dozen years of experience as a user experience architect, UI designer, and digital strategist specializing in designing user friendly, forward-thinking technology solutions for some of the world's most well-known brands. Find him on Twitter @adjustafresh.

On January 9, 2007 Steve Jobs unofficially ushered in a new era of personal computing. One day later in an article on CNET, AppForge CEO, Gary Warren, predicted the death of the mobile web browser. Gary was wrong.

In only a few short years mobile web browsing has jumped from virtually nothing to 8.53% of global Internet traffic (that’s more than Internet Explorer 6 and 7 combined, source). Google predicts that in 2012 over one billion people will use a mobile device as their primary Internet access point. That number will only continue to rise.

Pull out your phone, and go to your company’s website. How does it look?

As mobile technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to search and browse the web. It’s critical that organizations understand that all websites are now mobile websites—all web designers and developers are now mobile designers and developers. To succeed, the user experience of your website must meet the expectations of your customers who are viewing the content on a myriad of devices. But how?

Content Strategy

Now would be a great time to assess and update the content on your website. For content heavy sites, that can be a foreboding idea; then again, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Does all of your website’s content serve a clear business purpose? Does it meet the needs of your end users? Would it be pleasant to view on a smartphone connecting via a weak 3G signal?

When you edit the content, write it with a voice representative of your brand, and keep it clear, concise, and task oriented. Your customers don’t want to wade through a bunch of jargon and marketing mumbo-jumbo—especially when viewing it on a smartphone.

Responsive Design

Responsive or fluid design is the practice of using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to build websites that adapt their user interface to the type of browser in which they’re being viewed. So a site that looks and works well on a 24-inch desktop monitor can also look and work well on an iPhone.

It’s important to note that responsive design isn’t necessarily limiting the feature set or content. It’s about re-prioritizing and making it easier to access in a mobile context.

Test & Iterate

Monitor your analytics closely, and run A/B tests on your site’s key user flows and landing pages. Usability testing should happen frequently and informally with your actual customers or target audience.  Gather as much information as you can to help you A. truly understand your customers’ needs, B. inform design decisions that are being made, and C. make improvements quickly. In short, ABT (Always Be Testing).