As we step forward into a new year, it is not uncommon to look back at the progress we have made and the changes that have occurred. In the current Digital Age, those changes are unprecedented and technology and digital media are taking us in directions we never could have imagined. And as the world around us changes, often businesses must adjust their strategies.
For one thing, ease of access to information has never been this high. If you look back twenty years ago, the average person did not even have a personal e-mail account. Nowadays, the average person has multiple devices capable of checking their e-mail and other social networking platforms at any time. There are many options for how to access information and stay connected, and those options just keep increasing with time. But what does this mean for a business’s marketing strategies, and how can one adapt to these changes?
The Importance Of Information
It is often said that knowledge is power, and in the case of a digital presence, up to date, accessible, and relevant information is the source of that power. We have all experienced the frustration of encountering a business whose website is out of date or hard to navigate. This frustration can increase exponentially in the mobile realm. Often times, companies do not format their websites to be easily navigated from tablet or smartphone. With so many of us needing to access information on an on the go basis, this can be a huge problem, and ends up reflecting poorly on the business in question.
What Is Responsive Design?
A concept that is gaining popularity in the world of digital media and marketing is that of responsive design. This is an approach to web design that is built on adaptability. Sites that are designed responsively have multiple fluid grid layouts to provide an optimal viewing experience without excessive scrolling, resizing, or panning. Basically, responsive web design allows you to get the same information and quality of website regardless of the platform you are using.
Responsive web design seems like a highly practical solution, both in the benefit of the business and the customer. For the business, it simplifies attempts to be accessible on mobile. As opposed to having to manage both a standard and mobile version of a website, or the unnecessary creation of a mobile application, having a responsive site design gives you only one thing to worry about and update. As the customer, you can rest assured that you will be able to navigate and access a website whether visiting from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. And yet, with all the clear benefits to this approach to web design, an abysmally small percentage of websites are responsively designed.
Case Study: ATOMIC Ballroom
Here at Five Lines Media, we were curious about the benefits of being more easily accessible for mobile users. Most people can use basic observational skills and notice an increase in mobile device usage over the last few years. But we like statistics and hard numerical data and decided to do a case study on one of our oldest clients- ATOMIC Ballroom.
ATOMIC Ballroom is a popular venue for lessons and social dances located in Southern California. It attracts people of all ages- from teenagers to seniors, and from a wide demographic range. That, and the fact that we have worked with them since 2008 made them a wealth of data and a perfect candidate for a case study. We wanted to analyze the data to see if the trend towards mobile was really as drastic as it seemed and if there were any patterns to make the matter of mobile design better understood.
Data was collected from October of 2008 through October of 2013. The first point of data worth noting is the percentage of web sessions that were accessed from a mobile device versus a desktop or laptop computer.
From the first year (2008) where only 0.34% of sessions occurred from a mobile device, to the present (2014) where that percentage is 48.31%. Web sessions, or visits to the ATOMIC Ballroom site have increased from 62,226 in 2008 to 173,913 in 2014. So not only are we seeing an increase in reliance on mobile data, but also a sheer increase in web traffic. A lot of that can be credited to typical growth and development of a company. But the ability to be accessed more easily and immediately (through mobile) has much to do with that increase as well.
The data pool of how ATOMIC’s site is being accessed gets even more interesting in 2011 with the introduction of a new player in the mix- the tablet. From that point on, and increasing percentage of web sessions is coming from these devices. At the present time (2014) they account for 9.51% of site visits, and that number is always increasing.
We further broke this information down to see what screen resolutions were viewing the site.
In the first year of study (2008), percentages were pretty evenly distributed amongst standard sizes of desktop and laptop. The most popular resolutions at this time were Desktop 1280×800 (26.5%) and Desktop 1024×768 (24.9%). In the present time, those percentages are much more stratified. You can perhaps imagine with all the different smart phone, tablet, and laptop models out there, and all of those have a different screen resolution. The most statistically significant resolutions in 2014 were Phone 320×568 (14.81%) and Phone 320×480 (9.86%). The really staggering statistic is the total number of recorded screen resolutions throughout this study. Over the last six years, 63 screen resolutions have been recorded as statistically significant out of a total of 3,489 registered resolutions.
Analysis Of Results
What do all the numbers mean? For starters, the trend towards mobile is legitimate. If statistics continue along the projected path, we will be looking at a majority of mobile site viewers in this next year. And those customers are viewing from a wide variety of devices with drastically different needs for an optimal site viewing experience.
That is where the importance of responsive web design comes in again. With this method of site design, customers will get the same web experience whether on a massive desktop with a screen resolution of 1920×1080, to an iPhone 4 with a resolution of 320×480.
The Moral Of The Story
As much as it seems like an overused concept, the mobile age is here. And you owe it to your customers, and your business, to be prepared for what that means. Working with responsive web design is a key way to make sure you and your business are reaching full mobile optimization. Here at Five Lines Media, we are happy to help and advise in any of your web design needs. Even our friends at ATOMIC Ballroom are currently working with us to make their site better and more responsively designed than ever. Because the fact is, if your site is not providing power through up to date, accessible, and relevant information, you could be losing customers.