3 ways to rethink mobile

Pinja Virtanen

by Pinja Virtanen

first-illu6Did you know that 61% of website traffic comes from mobile, yet only 33% of Fortune 100 companies’ sites are sufficiently optimized for the smallest breakpoint? And if these statistics aren’t enough, from April 21st onwards Google’s new mobile search algorithm has started favoring forward-thinking companies with mobile-friendly websites, while their less sophisticated rivals are falling behind. With this in mind, today seems like the perfect time to talk about mobile, and more specifically, the three different alternatives for keeping your website traffic afloat.

The idea behind responsive web design is to accommodate desktop content on smaller screen sizes by dividing it into blocks that can be piled on top of each other when the window width becomes too narrow to display the blocks side by side. This saves users from having to scroll pages horizontally and instead, offers readable copy and optimized layouts on the first load. While this approach is perfectly acceptable for companies whose mobile users are mostly interested in learning more about a certain topic, it might not bode well for end-users wishing to perform more advanced functions.

Recent studies indicate that:


  • In 2013, over 25% of US mobile users were mobile only (1)
  • In 2014, the number of mobile users exceeded the number of desktop users globally (2)
  • Not optimizing for mobile could lead to 33% decrease in website traffic (3)
  • 50% of Google searches are already performed on mobile devices (4)
    second-illu2Think of mobile first as responsive design reversed. Where the traditional idea of responsiveness is to squeeze desktop content into smaller viewports, mobile first builds from the smallest breakpoint to the larger ones. This is an optimal approach for companies with lots of mobile traffic, complex technical features and content. Instead of worrying about toning down mobile functionality after a site has been built, why not start from the impossible? By the time you’ve worked out all the quirks of mobile, the only way is up. Literally.

    Although we're still getting chills thinking about the first awkward m.sites, there are some undeniable advantages to this approach. Set aside the hideous interfaces and incredibly slow loading times from the early days, and you've actually got an ingenious solution for brick and mortar businesses. The hallmark of stand-alone sites is that they offer flexibility beyond responsive design. Let's face it, to this date mobile is largely synonymous with on-the-go. And if the user flows on mobile and desktop vary from one another dramatically, this behavioral difference needs to be accounted for with easier access to store locators and opening hours. All we can say is: go small or go home.