The Mobile Experience

Internet is the fastest growing media outlet, representing 28% of total media consumption; this is surpassed only by television. Mobile internet represents over 20% of internet traffic and is growing faster than the internet as a whole. Mobile web traffic increased by 110% last year alone, and is expected to grow even faster in coming years due to skyrocketing sales of 3G smart phones. This growth is expected to cause mobile internet usage to overtake desktop usage by the year 2014.  Meaning by 2014, the number of people who view your site through the window of the mobile internet will exceed the number of views from desktops.

Many popular websites have already rolled out mobile versions, such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Bing, eBay and all major news outlets. Mobile browsers have recently taken large steps to improve compatibility with standard websites starting with Apple’s iPhone mobile Safari, which included upgraded rendering and navigational capabilities. This allows mobile browsers to rival desktops in display quality giving mobile users full access to websites.

This does not mean they are without their shortcomings, as a heavy mobile internet user myself, I am always disappointed and irritated when I visit a website that does not render properly on my phone. Screen sizes on phones (which are the most popular mobile device by far) are relatively small, making navigation difficult on websites that aren’t optimized for mobile viewing. When viewed from a mobile device a cluttered or busy page can become all but impossible to navigate, with parts overlapping or not showing up at all, rendering an otherwise fully functional website obsolete and useless to potential customers.

A site that is not optimized for mobile view will deter viewers from staying very long and they will take their business to other, better optimized sites. If you were to visit the mobile pages of any of those sites I mentioned earlier, you would notice they are all very simple, and straightforward. There should be no clutter and ample spacing for finger navigation; links to other important pages need to be large, well placed and easily noticeable while extra content is hidden or collapsible. Users of mobile devices are generally avid users and it can be assumed that they understand the advanced functionality of compressed data techniques.

Mobile web use is accelerating very quickly, as are its abilities to accurately display websites, but due to size limitations, a mobile experience will never be the same as one on the desktop. However, that does not mean that content or the overall user experience should be abridged. It is the job of developers and content providers to accommodate for this difference in order to reach their mobile audience more readily or risk losing them.

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