Smartphones & Web Design.

Web Design   •   October 8th, 2018

How Smartphones are Changing Web Design

Web design has changed quite a bit over the past few years, in this article we will take a look at the role of cell phones in this change. When cell phones were new to the market, the trend was to make everything smaller. Ever since the public was introduced to cell phones by Gordon Gekko and Zack Morris two things were apparent. The first was that we all wanted one. The second thing that became apparent shortly after getting a cell phone was that they were simply too big to be a part of our everyday life.

The original brick phones were too big for most handbags and they were definitely too big to fit into a pocket (even when MC Hammer pants were all the rage). So, cell phone manufacturers got into a race to be smaller, have longer battery life, and become more affordable. It wasn’t too long before we saw cellphones in the hands of most adults and in rare cases an older teenager. These cellphones were not yet a necessity but were a luxury that was starting to show up more and more often.

The Race To Get Smaller

Once the cell phone market got too large for tech companies to ignore, it seemed like everybody was sending out press releases touting their new offering. In the late 90’s it seemed like no gimmick was too odd. Cellphones started to get customized cases, blinking lights when a call was received, and you couldn’t walk through a shopping mall without seeing multiple cellphone customization carts. Phones kept getting more customizable and smaller in the late 90’s and early 2000’s; that is until the cellphone market changed forever on June 29, 2007.

Smartphones Change Everything

When Apple released the iPhone in 2007 people stopped looking at their phones as a way to merely place calls and send texts, they started looking at their phones as a way to connect with the world around them. The first iPhones came with YouTube loaded directly into the operating system which made watching videos on the phone simple and surprisingly addictive. The initial round of iPhones also came with Safari installed which made it possible to browse the web in a way that mirrored desktop browsing instead of the completely stripped down version of web browsing available in previous phones. In 2008 Apple released the App Store for the iPhone and instantaneously the possibilities were endless. People started using their phones to interact with their social circles via social media, to play games, to track productivity, etc. The App Store made smartphones a must because it brought just about anything you care about to your fingertips.

If we take a look back over the past 11 years quite a bit has changed with the smartphone market’s initial race to get smaller. As people started using their smartphones to watch movies, scroll through Instagram, and shop online; consumers started demanding larger screens to make online tasks easier. The demand for larger screens has caused smartphone manufacturers to blur the line between smartphone and tablet. Apple released its iPhone X in 2017 which boasted one of the largest screens on any smartphone. Just a year later Apple announced their iPhone XS Max. This new release which has made Apple’s largest screen even bigger tells us that people are looking to the smartphones to be a hybrid device that is portable but can do just about anything that a tablet can.

How Do Smartphone Trends Impact Your Website’s Design

Well, for a website to gain traction and compete in the modern marketplace, it must be able to engage and convert traffic into business on mobile devices. As screens are getting larger and phones are getting more powerful, people are getting more and more hesitant to drop what they are doing to start up their desktop or laptop to find information or make a purchase. When consumers are looking for anything from a pair of shoes to a new home, they start and in many cases complete the process on their phones. Think about the last time you wanted to check for a great restaurant around you and stopped what you were doing to find a computer. Unless you were already on your computer, it is not likely you would go to the trouble. However, it is very likely that you would type in “best sushi restaurant near me” or something of that nature into your smartphone without having to ever go near a desktop computer.

The trend for people to complete research and purchases on their smartphones is not going away, it is accelerating. With more than half of all online searches happening on smartphones it is more important than ever that your website is set up to convert traffic on mobile devices. Here are three tips to help make sure your website design is ready to convert on mobile devices.

1. Make sure your website design is responsive. A responsive website will take the same content that is visible on a desktop and rearrange it to fit onto a mobile device. When smartphones first came out companies had to create two websites, one that was for desktop and one for mobile. While having a dedicated mobile website was a viable option; it was expensive, created another site to manage, and in many cases would strip images and other content. Stripped content led to a minimal user experience which was not ideal. Responsive design allows for a single website to be created once, changes to be propagated on desktop devices as well as mobile devices, and seamlessly transition to devices of varying sizes.

2. Consider the size of your buttons. Call to action buttons are a necessity for any website that wants to sell products, generate leads, or inform consumers. The thing that must be taken into account when it comes to mobile design is that having too many buttons to close together, or having buttons next to other links can lead to people clicking on the wrong link and getting frustrated. A mouse or trackpad is a pretty precise tool on a desktop/laptop. However, a thumb on a smartphone screen can be much less accurate. When designing a website for smartphone use it is a good idea to increase the button sizes as well as making sure they are not too close to other links which could lead to your site visitors accidentally ending up in the wrong place.

3. Reduce unnecessary images. While you should definitely use enough images to make your point, enhance branding, and advertise your products, you should remove images that may be unnecessary. When websites were being designed just for desktop use it was easier to get away with large and numerous images. Part of this was because of the processing power of desktops as well as higher download speeds. When people visit your website from a smartphone their download speeds will vary wildly depending on if they are connected to wifi, how their reception is at their current location and the processing power of their smartphone. The more images you have on your website the longer it will take for the page to load which could lead to site visitors getting frustrated and leaving your site.

We hope that you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions about responsive website design or anything related to marketing your business, please feel free to contact us anytime. We are passionate about marketing and would love to speak with you.