Should your company have a mobile website?
Designers, believe it or not, rarely come flying out of the gate with mind-blowing designs or concepts. Sometimes there are tons of pretty good ideas, then there are just some really bad ideas, and on occasion a creative block falls where absolutely no ideas come at all. It can be agonizing, especially as deadlines loom. There are numerous causes for creative block, but luckily there are some very simple ways to clear the way to help the ideas flow freely again.
It’s no secret that prototyping mobile applications is hard. HTML5 doesn’t really provide a great facsimile for native apps—you just don’t get the responsiveness or layout that makes you want to develop native in the first place—and a lot of tools that are great for web functional prototypes, like our much beloved Axure RP, are not necessarily ideal for prototyping native mobile applications depending on the UI complexity. We, here at ThoughtMatrix, are huge fans of Axure which is not going to change anytime soon, but we do realize its limitations for certain types of applications.
We experienced quite the extraordinary turn of events this past week, though not entirely surprising to those up on industry trends. Simply put, LinkedIn—the company who just last year espoused how HTML5 client development was still extremely relevant—released a major new update to their application and without any forewarning quietly let it slip that they have moved from a hybrid application to an all native design.
I may be a bit of a creature of habit; I tend to do about three things when I use my smartphone—email, then over to Facebook and then maybe check stocks or an ESPN app to check scores, but that sadly feels like the extent of it. Oh, I’m sure I do other things here and there that make smartphone ownership great; I use maps when I’m lost, Yelp when I’m hungry, Google Voice for texting and Evernote. Yet, rarely do I go out of the way to read news and fun content on my phone because it usually requires a lot of slow loading, phone turning, pinching and zooming.
In our first article, we discussed the amazing flexibility that responsive design offers. But this flexibility comes with a price that might negatively affect your fastest-growing audiences – mobile and tablet users. While offering a flexible layout, responsive design requires the latest browsers, more code, and large images. In short, responsive layouts can be bandwidth hogs and resource-intensive to render. This affects users on the move, where bandwidth is the scarcest, and where processors lack the raw power of their desktop predecessors.
With mobile smartphone use growing at such an astounding pace, I’m constantly amazed that there are still so many top-tier companies that do not have a dedicated mobile website experience. I believe that this rapid growth seems to be outpacing many IT and marketing executives’ ability to digest and grasp how mobile is going to drastically affect their business growth – particularly in the consumer space.
With mobile, the year 2012 will be a unique parallel to 1996-97, when many industry titans were caught with their pants down by the speed at which web use grew, and were unable to launch a compelling website faster than their competitors.
One of the most important factors in evaluating a website design is answering the question, “What is the average screen size my visitors will use to view my site?” Over the past few years, this evaluation process has become both more complex and more confusing due to the explosion of Internet-connected devices. Website access has shifted dramatically, and mobile/tablet browsing is expected to surpass desktop usage over the next two years.
At a recent TechWeek Chicago event, I presented the major technology trends that are changing how existing UX design processes are viewed and the new approaches companies can employ to stay ahead of these trends. Both “Lean UX” and the rapid growth of mobile browsing have contributed to our radical approach to reinventing teams and processes to meet the challenges of today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. This new approach is born out of two ideas circulating amongst the User Experience and App Development communities that moves away from traditional design processes to a more iterative and open approach and also considers developing for mobile users first as a means to focus the design.
For more detailed information on the forces driving rapid change in the UX Design field, watch the “What’s Next for UX” webinar that illustrates new approaches and presents practical methods to help design teams stay ahead of these trends. Watch the webinar now >