Smartphone WAVE

* The growing mobile market
* Smartphone consumer needs
* What’s Responsive Web Design?
* Responsive Web Design’s Key Principles

Smartphones are everywhere, meaning more and more of your valuable web traffic is coming from mobile devices. This growing market has a number of specific needs, and one of them is an accessible website design. Responsive Web Design is an excellent solution and a new way of thinking about building a website.

The Rise of the Smartphone Market

Smartphones have become ubiquitous around the globe. Not only are they more widely used than ever, they also sport an incredibly diverse range of functions. On-the-go internet usage is becoming standard, with people browsing mobile sites to get the information or product they need instantly. With the second highest smartphone penetration rate according to an survey, Australia is poised to further adopt this simple, instant, impulsive buying. If you have a product or service that would be needed while out and about, targeting a smartphone market is pivotal.

Smartphones are also being used to research and make informed buying decisions. With internet access available even as you stand inside a store deciding which product to choose, 57% of users have researched a product of service on their mobile, according to the survey. This kind of actively engaged mobile use is a hot lead into real sales, and the smartphone market as a whole is filled with individuals who are in the process of making a consumer decision – where to go, what to eat, what to buy, who to trust. It’s important that when they look you up, not only do they find crucial information, they do so in a way that encourages them further.

You can even get on hold messaging services on your Smartphone or regular cell phone. You will need an additional service like to provide a virtual phone system, but even with this added cost, message on hold services for your Smartphone are within most budgets, even for small businesses.

Smartphone Consumer Needs

The smartphone consumer has a particular set of needs that should be catered to in order to capitalize on their increasing attention. Your mobile web design and marketing should:

–        Be easy to use. Mobile design requires a different tack to traditional websites, and should be created with a small screen and thumbs in mind.

–        Be focused and direct. On-the-go users don’t want to trawl for the info they seek, they want to be led straight to it. Take advantage of this and streamline important user goals.

–        Be light on bandwidth. Most mobile plans still offer limited data, so people are likely to backtrack if your site is too heavy.

What’s Responsive Web Design?

Of course, the other distinct aspect to the mobile market is that it’s incredibly diverse. In any mobile phone shop you’ll find a huge range of screen sizes and handset configurations, to the extent that they’re impossible to cater to individually. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a solution that has gained widespread popularity. This new way of designing websites means one single web layout can fit any screen size. It does this by automatically detecting the device’s resolution, and then changing and adjusting the contents so that they fit comfortably. This requires an extremely fluid, flexible design, which is why this trend is so interesting.

RWD sites are inherently easy to use as they automatically resize text, images and buttons to the correct viewing size. Their unique design means it’s essential to cutback any unnecessary elements, and refine your website down into its essential mobile functions. This is perfect for the smartphone consumer, who only wants to meet their goal on your site as quickly as possible. Finally, as specially designed mobile sites they are light and highly browsable.

Responsive Web Design’s Key Principles

In practical terms, responsive web design revolves around 3 main principles:

–        Customizable Structure. The foundation of RWD sites is a layout (usually grid like) that is free form, and can deal in relative sizes and values rather than absolute ones. For instance, instead of saying, “this banner is 500 pixels wide”, you’d say, “this banner is 80% of the screen wide.

–        Resized images. Images are liable to become distorted when rescaled, so it’s best to keep it simple. An easy code will scale images to the size of the page, and it’s important to critically examine which are essential and which are not.

–        Hiding information. Rather than aiming for a miniature version of your website, you should think about which elements are really crucial to the mobile audience and only include these. Use focused navigation and content to direct them towards their – and your – end goal.

Responsive Web Design is an exciting new technology set to shape the mobile webscape long into the future. Next time you view your website stats, you might want to check your mobile device usage.  If you’re getting 5% or more of your traffic from mobile devices, then it would be a good time to consider how to ensure these visitors are getting an optimal viewing experience.