D.H. Lawrence’s immortal novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover begins “Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.” Today, ours is essentially and increasingly a digital age, and while we certainly don’t have to take it tragically, we do have to take it. Many people can and have turned to the new digital sector as a source of employment, and that trend is likely to continue with the rise of such massive names as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter over the past few years, not to mention the app and technology boom in the smartphone department.
All of this impacts the mobile website industry immensely—but is it for the better, and do users care for this mobile interface?
In many respects, the answer would seem to be a resounding “yes.” Mobile websites do allow uses to surf the Web and keep up with friends and job contacts on the go as well as at home. Digital “clouds”—sites wherein information is stored and accessible by users from multiple devices, including iPhones, tablets, laptops, etc. This added connectivity and ease of access to one’s own work is definitely one element of such websites which is decidedly positive. Anyone who’s torn their bedroom or office apart looking for a small USB drive or—for those who are old enough to remember such a bygone era—CDs and floppy disks will certainly appreciate the ability to save their work to a Microsoft or Apple-supported cloud and be able to access this information at will. Ease of access is one of the most important elements in designing both websites and apps today, and in this respect, mobile websites for devices such as the iPad really does show up as a plus.
Perhaps most telling is a statistic, cited by mobify.com, a whopping 1.2 billion people across the planet access the Internet daily via their mobile phones. 1.2 billion people account for roughly the combined populations of Europe and the United States, and marks 1 out of every 7 people on the planet. Already 58% of Americans own a smartphone, and with the rise in all facets of the industry—from mobile service to app design to Internet connectivity and beyond—that’s a number which will likely only go up, especially in the foreseeable future.
But are these users browsing mobile-optimized websites, or are they just using a mobile device to browse websites designed for the desktop? Google’s research suggests that 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site and about half of users are frustrated when they encounter a website that doesn’t work well on their mobile device. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to design two versions of your site. With techniques in responsive design and cross-browser HTML5 features, it’s possible to design a website that works well and doesn’t feel restrictive on a desktop while being lightweight enough to be accessible from a mobile device.
Lawrence’s timeless novel was written after the fallout of the First World War, an event which, for better or worse, heralded a new era in our history as a species. Now, with the rise of the digital market and an increasingly-globalized world, a new period of change has come along, and from the look of things, it’s a brave new technological world indeed.