I was just reading “5 Reasons Why Mobile Browsing Isn’t That Important” by Hernán Gonzalez, and I was shocked at how backward thinking some of his theories are about mobile websites.
The quote that I find most bothersome:
“Research shows that users access the Web predominately via legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer on desktop or laptop computers. Numbers show that only about 1.47 percent of Web browsing is done through mobile devices, according to the well-renowned W3schools. That said, sacrificing the online experience to ensure that a website is mobile-platform-compatible can be very counterproductive in the long run.”
The operative word there is “in the long run.” I think it is becoming fairly evident that in the long run more and more people will become mobile-only users. Especially as the smart phone makes the web accessible to those who cannot afford a phone and home computer and home internet. The smart phone alone will make the home computer a luxury rather than necessity.
Another problem with “in the long run” is this: most companies cannot afford to update their websites very often. If you are in or approaching the design phase right now, you need a website that will be what users want both today and in five years.
If you have a website that is interacted with by consumers on a regular basis, your site had better be able to function well on an iPhone.
If you are IBM, a mobile-ready site is no big deal; you are interested in large-scale business deals. But if you run a local sandwich shop, you’d better believe that a lot of your business is coming on mobile devices.
More misconceptions about mobile users
Gonzalez claims phone users have issues with usability, noting “Browsing the Internet on a mobile device is not easy for many users – it can be difficult and time consuming. Problems interacting with sites and completing tasks, such as filling out forms and clicking on buttons, are also not as simple on mobile devices. These types of issues have caused many users to avoid using the Internet on their mobile phones.”
Who are these “many users”? Are they under age 60? Are you designing for yesterday’s users or today’s and tomorrow’s?
In reality, we should be using the mobile site as the template for our larger site. If the site is hard to navigate via mobile, it may be too complicated overall. Good web design should start with the mobile site. That way you can get to the true essence of your site — the stuff that is really important — and strip all of that bullshit and clutter off of your homepage. Keep it simple, stupid!
He also notes, ” An overwhelming amount of users are unable to connect or receive a strong signal in many locations worldwide.”
Well, allow me to retort. As the mobile market proliferates, so will the access to Wi-Fi. Technology expands to meet consumer demand. Again, this is Gonzalez looking to the past instead of the future.
I’ve seen the future, and it works
In summary, this article is all kinds of wrong. Plan your site for the user of today and the users of five years from today. Anticipate your customers’ needs so you are ahead of the game. And by all means, create a mobile version of your site!