A survey by Ofcom has revealed that the majority of people in the UK prefer to go online using their mobile phone ahead of laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.
It's the first time the survey has put smartphones on top, with laptops being the most popular previously.
How important is mobile app development?
So what does this mean for websites? If more people are viewing websites and apps on their mobile, should development be prioritising mobile-specific designs?
Our feeling is that the survey shows that mobile should, when applicable, always be an option, but that it's often best alongside more traditional software development.
People preferring mobile doesn't mean laptops are not being used. Think of your own browsing habits. Do you reach for your mobile most of the time all things considered, but prefer to make purchases on a laptop or desktop?
That is certainly the case for me. While I would have to pick mobile for preferred device due to the amount of times a day I check emails and new websites, I much prefer using my huge desktop monitor to view websites. I would appreciate a mobile friendly website, but I also want to be greedy and be able to see desktop designs and tablet-sized websites too.
But even so, for certain areas, mobile development is the way to go. You don't necessarily need to 'cover all bases' and it very much depends on your target consumers/users, as well as budget.
What now for desktop development?
The survey shows a decline in website browsing via a desktop computer as a preferred method, which is to be expected. How many people do you know who still fire up a desktop pc at home?
But there are other factors to consider. Mostly, that checking your phone to check something like a news headline is fine, but often people will want a larger screen to do anything more involved. A lot of people will still have desktop computers at work, and view websites via a standard monitor while browsing on lunch breaks.
In terms of web design, desktop and laptop are covered by the same scale design, so although less people prefer desktops, plenty of people still use it, and plenty still prefer laptops. So a regular “desktop/laptop” design (ie, the usual full size website or application) should still be your first port of call in many situations.
The most important thing is to offer choice when possible, and take into account what will work best in specific circumstances.
Navigating web and mobile development – what should I get?
We always help our clients understand the pros and cons of creating apps for different devices and, with their input, weigh up what is best for them.
If a client has a budget in mind, we make our suggestions for what we think might be a good starting point based on that budget, and how to reach the most people in the best way, for their spend.