According to a recent Pew Research Center study, the year 2015 is when mobile will overtake desktop. This means businesses and organizations have about three years (or less depending on their industry and audience) to get their mobile strategy together—or, get left behind by their competition.
Additionally, Pew's research found that 45% of U.S. adults own smartphones, and 55% use the web on their device. 29% of U.S. adults own a tablet or e-reader. 25 million U.S. adults use their mobile devices as their primary way to access the web. These are growing numbers you can't ignore, as web developer Josh Clark pointed out earlier this year: "We can't settle for serving such a huge audience a stripped-down experience or force them to swim through a desktop layout in a small screen."
As more people begin to access the web from devices such as smartphones, e-readers, and tablets, it's critical for forward-thinking businesses and organizations to invest in mobile development. Knowing the mobile audience is growing, the question for many business owners and organizational leaders will be: Do we make apps, build specific mobile-friendly websites, or develop one responsive website that works at all screen sizes without separate any extra work?
At the Chicago Web Conf last weekend, front-end developer and responsive design all-star Catherine Farman explained why responsive design is often the best choice for companies and organizations. Here are some simplified takeaways from her talk:
Mobile shouldn't be an afterthought. Don't let your users leave you behind. Many users are already expecting websites to be mobile-friendly.
Redesigns are expensive and time-consuming, but so is losing potential customers because your website doesn't work on their mobile device. If starting from scratch with a new responsive design isn't an option, consider retrofitting and optimizing your desktop experience to be friendly for mobile users.
Content is what matters. Responsive designs help make sure that the content your company or business is trying to share is readable by your customers, no matter how they are accessing your website.
Think about the last time you used a tablet or smartphone. If you needed information about a company, what is easier and quicker? Is it more convenient to download and install an app or open your browser?
The most-used apps fall under these four types: games, social networking, entertainment, and news. If that doesn't sound like the content that your company or organization plans to share, then an app is probably not for you.
Even complex websites are embracing responsive design. Some big e-commerce companies that have recently launched responsive websites include Microsoft, Disney, and the World Wildlife Fund.