Back in the early days of websites, the design was largely a matter of personal taste. Though limited by the connecting hardware, these websites were often loaded with distracting gifs and gimmicks, as users were fascinated at what the early online world could deliver.
Over time, designs became more standardized, reflecting a greater call for usability and efficiency. Today, this momentum has carried us to a place where mobile functionality is not just an option, it’s a necessity. So, why has this occurred, and what does this mean for the average website designer?
The Need for Mobile
The drive towards making more websites work on mobile is a direct result of the growth of smartphone access. Popularised in 2007 with the release of the original iPhone, browsing websites in the early days of the mobile internet was problematic.
Without standardization, smartphones had to rely on desktop websites run through mobile browsers. While these could simplify some aspects to better scale websites to mobiles, the limited resolution and input were frustrating to use, if they worked at all.
Over time, an increase in mobile traffic led many businesses and users to design secondary websites directly for mobiles. Over time, however, mobiles took up continually greater parts of the global browsing experience, so a broader change was needed.
This took the form of HTML5 and related CSS technologies, which made it possible for websites to automatically scale and adapt to smartphone systems if properly designed. This is the standard which we use today, and it’s only growing more popular.
Optimizing in Action
For an illustration of a modern mobile website in action, consider the tack taken by a mobile phone casino service. Formerly designed exclusively for desktops, new website likes these have been optimized on every level for mobile access.
Naturally, due to the growing market share of mobile phones, developers have optimized their casino websites so that all mobile players can access their services.
In practice, optimizing their websites will ensure they will work on any screen size, or with different phone operating systems like iOS or Android.
This means low demands on hardware, large and streamlined navigation tools, and scalable text for different devices. Such optimization even extends to the games themselves, which have long since abandoned Macromedia’s Flash in favor of less resource-intensive and more flexible systems.
As for the actual website design, the popularity of mobile systems has made taking a two-pronged approach a functional necessity. According to recent stats, around 56% of the total internet traffic in 2021 came from mobiles. This means that in some cases mobile versions of websites aren’t just an option, they’re the primarily targeted platform.
Indirectly, this move towards mobiles has also reshaped the ways that traditional websites look and operate. Ideally, developers want their desktop and mobile websites to be extensions of each other, necessitating a consistent design flow.
As many older desktop-centric designs have been incompatible with mobiles, this has led to complete redesigns being standard practices within the last few years.
From humble origins, the ubiquity of modern mobiles makes them a fundamental cornerstone of our daily lives, and shy of some unpredictable catastrophe, this is never likely to change.
Website design is just one area where this development has taken root, where many others are likely to follow. We might not notice it in daily life, but make no mistake, mobile optimization is an enormous thing, and it’s only going to become more so.