Mobile vs. Desktop

John Riehl, May 20, 2018

Worldwide, internet access from mobile devices surpassed desktops in 2016. As of April 2018, in the U.S. it's almost a 50-50 split, with desktop engoing a very slim 51-49 edge. We anticipate that the trend is toward increased mobile use. What does that mean for your business's website?

Why Mobile-First?

An increasingly popular approach to website design is called mobile-first. The designer builds a web experience optimized for mobile devices, then builds in extensions that add to the site if it's being used on a desktop. In many instances this is a good approach. Why?

  • Starting with mobile forces the designer and client to really focus on the most important content and capabilities of the site, as there's not as much real-estate and computing power available on a mobile device as there is on a desktop platform.
  • Mobile devices offer capabilities not found on desktops, such as GPS location and a camera. Thinking about the mobile site first makes sure the designer and client think of the expanded possibilties of mobile.
  • It leaves you with just one site to maintain, as opposed to a mobile site and a separate desktop site. You've seen these before—many mobile-only sites put an "m." in front of the name, as in

Desktop: "The report of my death has been grossly exaggerated"

OK, it was actually Mark Twain who said this, but it could just as well have been the desktop. It's true that mobile is on the rise at the expense of desktop usage, but hiding underneath the average is a wide-range of specific use cases. For instance, building a website would be nearly impossible on a mobile device—even a tablet, so I'm building this website on my desktop computer. Let's say I need to look something up, like the best complementary colors for a particluar shade of green. I'm going to look that up on the very same desktop I'm using to build the site. The last thing I want to see is a mobile-only site that doesn't take advantage of the size and capability a desktop offers. The *real* question to ask is this—do *my* most important users need the capabilities that only a desktop site can offer, including:

  • Large screen space
  • Greater processing power
  • Likely better network connectivity
  • No concerns with battery life

Beware of One-Size-Fits-All Approaches

As with many industries, the IT world has no shortage of hype, and the hype about mobile-first is no exception. At Just Right Software Solutions we believe that each business's website needs to be built with that business's unique needs in mind. During your free consultation we'll talk about who your important users are and the things they need your website to do for them.