If we went back in time and looked at websites ten years ago, we would see that websites were fixed-width websites. The websites looked fine on our desktop and laptop computers, but would be a mess on our mobile phones (which was probably a flip-phone or a Nokia brick). Not many people accessed the internet through their phones. And only big companies could afford to create a second, separate website just for mobile users.
Flash forward to today.
90% of American adults own a mobile phone.
45% of American adults own a tablet computer.
63% of those mobile phone users use their phone to access the internet.
Times are changing, and when it comes to websites, the vast popularity of mobile, internet-ready devices is creating a need for websites that can adapt to the many device widths out there.
Let’s Talk About “Responsive Design”
Responsive Design is a useful web developing technique that allows a website to contort to various screen sizes. I like to call this technique, “one-size-fits-all.” Responsive Design is an alternative to creating a 2nd, mobile site. This means less hassle, since you only need to manage one site instead of two.
A mobile-optimized website means more than just making it fit the smaller screen — it also means understanding the challenges of using the internet on a mobile device and then using that understanding to provide a superior mobile experience.
To provide a superior mobile experiences, a lot of testing and a lot of considerations need to be made. When it comes to testing, I am to be as thorough as possible. Here’s a small example of how I like to make life easy for mobile users:
The above screenshot is from my very own Samsung tablet. When I select a form field, by default, a regular keyboard pops up. However, because we want optimize for mobile users, we can make a numerical field like Phone Number have a numerical keyboard pop up instead, to save time.