For Accessibility reasons, all websites must have a mobile version or responsive layout – when changing the size of the browser it scales to fit the screen. The websites essentially resize to mobile websites. Recently I purchased a WordPress theme. I was very happy with the look and it had all the features that I needed for the website that I developed. It didn’t take me long to realize that the layout of the theme is missing a critical feature: responsive design. When I purchased the theme I wasn’t looking for responsive design, in my mind, every website should be responsive, especially a layout of a theme that was recently built.
Since 2008 mobile browsing has been on the rise. According to smartinsights.com 2014 was a year of change in the web industry. It was the first time in the history of the web that more users browsed websites on mobile devices than desktops. This fact is a game changer for website owners as well website developing companies.
Companies have the online presence to display information, process requests (for example transfer money or change address), and make sales. In the past several years there has been a trend to create free content. Most blogs are created to generate traffic by giving free content hoping that readers browse other pages on the website and hopefully purchase a product or a service. The number of blogs is increasing daily. According to WordPress, there are 64.3 million new posts being published and 409 million people read blogs every month. The statistics reflect WordPress platform alone. With such high volume of audience, it is crucial to facilitate accessibility of web browsing on all major platforms with the emphasis on mobile browsing.
In 2009 a designer named Luke Wroblewski wrote a short article that coined the term mobile first. Luke noticed the statistics of the rising number of mobile users and realized that the mobile browsing audience can no longer be ignored. Furthermore, he stated that since the number of mobile users is growing extremely fast it is necessary to design a mobile website to fit mobile screens before designing it to fit larger screens. While the concept has been accepted by many in the web design world it also created a controversy. Many designers, as well as users, agree that even though the number of mobile users is on the rise there are features that are simply frustrating to use on a mobile device. Most of the time it is simpler to fill out a long form or read from a desktop screen than on a small mobile screen. In the article “Mobile first: why are we getting it wrong?” , James Archer describes how the quality of user experience on a desktop version has declined:
“In a graceful degradation approach, you might design a beautiful desktop site, and then chop it, squeeze it, strip it, or do whatever else you had to do to create an acceptable version for mobile devices.”
Although James is a fan of the mobile first concept, he states that it’s not implemented properly and causing frustration to users. Whether you agree with the concept or not, mobile audience surely cannot be ignored.
To conclude, websites must be compatible with mobile devices and should serve mobile websites. A design that lacks mobile view will possibly lose users. Going back to the theme I purchased, even though I liked the theme and its functionality, I didn’t feel that I got what I paid for. This experience taught me a lesson and next time I purchase another theme I won’t think that it’s obvious that it is responsive. I will be sure to look for it. Luckily, I can tweak the layout myself using media queries and adapt the mobile website.