Mobile traffic has long ago surpassed desktop traffic. The latest statistics show that current shares are 52.52% of mobile market portion and 43.63% of desktop. According to various studies, an average person spends about 3 hours per day on the smartphone. We wake up connected online and go offline only to sleep. With this in mind, the mobile first design and development should come as a prime concern.
‘Mobile first in everything. Mobile first in terms of applications. Most first in terms of the way people use things.’
— Eric Schmidt
What is a mobile first strategy?
It all Started with the Big Bang… Back in 2010, Eric Schmidt announced that Google will be adopting this approach from now on. ‘Mobile first in everything,’ Schmidt said. ‘Mobile first in terms of applications. Most first in terms of the way people use things.’ And thus began the rise of the mobile first design and development.
The new approach meant designing a mobile experience first and a desktop second. It required a new way of thinking, developing that put portable devices as a priority, and a new approach to UX design.
The shift from a desktop to a mobile first design
In the ruled by a click of a mouse past creating a mobile version of the already existing website came with a lot of constraints. A portable device version didn’t always look as technologically strong as its ‘older brother’. So instead of creating a polished product, an end result often seemed to be weak and not that thought out. While a mobile approach meant breaking free from a computer shaped box and taking advantage of technologies characteristic to mobile users (GPS, data-collecting, built-in cameras), along with introducing new types of interaction such as gestures and touch. So facing restrictions and trimmings at the beginning meant creating a product that functions under these circumstances. Having made all the difficult decisions at the mobile stage, made it possible to create a more robust desktop version afterward.
This new digital strategy meant adjusting the needs of users, to their circumstances and context. Texts had to be readable on a smaller device, photos tailored to the screen and maps easy to access and use. It takes into consideration the same factors: audience, behavior, targeted behavior. But the relevance of this or that feature depends on the context of a user.
That was then what about now?
But this was seven years ago which in a technological world feels like a century. Is it still important to prioritize a mobile experience today? And most importantly, how will it reflect on the business?
In today’s world mobile first design and development is no longer the future, it’s not the trend, it’s the present. Late 2016 has witnessed a historic shift, for the first time mobile device Internet usage has surpassed desktop usage.
The number of mobile users is expected to grow from 2.1 billion users in 2016 to around 2.9 billion by 2020. Across the world the total amount of time spent online from a mobile device has exceeded desktop, going as far as 90 % in Indonesia.
The little box that can fit into our hand has revolutionized our behavior. If you need to look up the latest news, check your messages, connect with friends or simply listen to some music, you won’t grab your laptop or even worse, go home to use a computer. Chances are, you will be using your smartphone. Can you imagine buying tickets from a desktop and, the nightmare of all nightmares, then having to print them out? No, because you will use an app. Do you ‘enjoy’ spending time on hold trying to order a taxi? Of course not, because you downloaded their app. All the information, services, social connections are only a few taps away now.
Apps are still at the top of their game by taking up about half of the digital time we spend on our phones. Are they are likely to grow even further.
Failure to provide with a good mobile experience can only harm your brand and no one can afford to do that.
It’s no longer a question whether you should be implementing a mobile first design, it’s a matter of using statistics and behavioral patterns to find a place in this highly competitive market. Failure to provide with a good mobile experience can only harm your brand and no one can afford that. What you should be doing is finding your way to your customer’s heart and phone because everyone is on the phone everywhere. Just take a second look at the top photo.