You Must Design for Mobile Devices

March 31, 2012

If you’ve been to a large public event recently, such as a concert or ballgame, you undoubtedly saw numerous people being preoccupied with their cell phones. They were texting, tweeting, checking in with Facebook, while an entertaining event that they paid to attend was going on in their immediate proximity. You might, as the woman sitting in front of me at a recent Dodgers spring training game, have commented to yourself that “young people these days don’t know how to communicate without those things.” Or maybe, like me, you might have thought, these kids seem more interested in capturing the event with their camera phones than they are in experiencing the actual event.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, in this situation, I am both perpetrator and perturbed. I attend a lot of concerts, and the occasional ballgame, and I enjoy taking photos of interesting things as I experience them. But I also get annoyed when the person standing in front of me insists on documenting the entire event by holding a phone up in front of me.

I often wonder how our day-to-day lives have been irretrievably altered by our dependence on our mobile devices. When a topic of interest arises during a conversation away from home, I inevitably seek more information on my phone. We’ve reached the point where I don’t say “remember what it was like before the internet?” Instead I say “remember when we used to have to go home to look up something on the internet?”

Nevertheless, this is the reality we live in.

People now interact with the world around them through their cell phones and other mobile devices. And if your website is designed without consideration given to how it will be perceived on mobile devices, you are limiting access to your website.

Further, when a prospective customer happens upon your website, and it is virtually illegible (i.e. the text is too small, or the layout is mangled), you run the risk of ruining your reputation. As the internet goes increasingly mobile-friendly, competing websites wil be more likely to be optimized for viewing on a cell phone or tablet. You need to keep up with the Joneses: websites that are not responsive to the screen size of their customers’ devices demonstrate a failure to keep up with the times.

And while the younger set is most likely to be using smartphones to view websites, and perhaps you don’t feel a need to market to that demographic, the fact remains that the percentage of people who are tech saavy is growing exponentially, and without regard to age, gender, or ethnicity. One only needs to look below at the photo I took at my birthday dinner two years ago. Amongst the takeout containers sitting on the table, you’ll find three adults, each over 40 years old, ignoring each other to tend to their cell phones.