By Richmond Lauman
With the popularity of mobile devices like smart phones and pads, and with these devices being introduced with increasingly better display quality and usability, it is not surprising that more and more internet browsing is being done from mobile devices. According to an article in computer.com from March of 2013, usage share of mobile browsers jumped 26% in three months! These usage statistics are expected to continue to increase as mobile devices continue to improve and more people find it increasingly convenient to use their mobile devices for web browsing.
What does this mean for businesses with websites?
In the past, businesses had only to concern themselves with how their site appeared on standard laptop and computer displays using different browsers. If a business did want to provide an optimum experience for mobile browsers, it was often accomplished by creating a separate site or application specifically for mobile devices and it was not efficient or convenient to attempt an optimum browsing experience for all devices available with varying displays and browsers. This was especially true considering that mobile browser users were not a significant portion of users on the web.
But that is changing. No longer can mobile browser users be considered statistically insignificant. The trends are clear. Their numbers are increasing, and if a website is not offering an optimal viewing experience for as many mobile devices as possible, it is alienating a steadily growing percentage of the market. It will not be long before a very significant number of mobile users will expect websites to offer them an optimal experience. Businesses who are not updating their sites with this in mind are going to be at a disadvantage to businesses that are catering to the mobile browsing market.
What is a business to do?
Luckily, with new developments in recent versions of HTML and CSS, combined with increasing standardization of how HTML and CSS are displayed in newer browser versions, presenting an optimal browsing experience to a wide range of devices is much easier to achieve! There are three important terms to keep in mind. Fluid Design, Adaptive Design, and Responsive Design. By implementing combinations of these three, a web designer can ensure that whether viewers are using an iPhone5, an Android, an iPad , a laptop or a desktop computer, they will have an optimal experience viewing your site. Instead of creating a number of different sites, created specifically to display on various devices and screen widths, the site can be coded so how it appears is in response to the device, browser and screen size being used! This means one site, that needs to be updated only once each time new content is added. The new content will display on all devices and you will not have duplicate content over numerous sites (which can lead to SEO problems).
Fluid websites are built using non-absolute measurements for widths. As a result, columns are relative to one another and the browser, allowing it to scale up and down fluidly according to the size of the screen.
Adaptive websites make use of media queries in CSS to target specific device sizes, like smaller monitors, tablets, and mobile. This allows styles to change dynamically according to the device being used.
Responsive websites use fluid design and media query, not just to adapt to the width of a screen display, but also to adapt to the content on various display widths, ensuring an optimal browsing experience.
Keep in mind that the goal is not to have a consistent display on all devices, but to have a display that is optimal to the viewer experience. What does this mean? It means that having a scaled replica of the site you see on a desktop monitor is not optimal to a viewers experience if the elements on the screen are too small to read, or the images are large and use up precious data quotas, or the site is difficult to use.
An optimal viewer experience accounts for the limitations of the device being used and displays content in such a manner that:
Armed with this information, you can confidently approach a competent designer about updating your current site so you are no longer losing the growing market share of mobile browsers.
About the Author
Richmond Lauman is a web designer and owner of JAMAXX Web Design in Nanaimo BC canada. He has ten years experience in the industry and recently updated his expertise in Fluid, Adaptive and Responsive Web Design , including for sites using Joomla and Wordpress.
Information on JAMAXX Web Designs Mobile Optimization Services
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