Revamping Websites and Services for Mobility

A brief preamble is necessary.

The notion of revamping websites for mobility is different from making them fit for mobile devices tout court. This is something that communication experts and web developers know very well.

Let’s probe it.

Sociologists, and other social scientists, use the word “Mobility” to signify the movement of people in a population, as from place to place, from job to job, or from one social class to another.

The word comes from Latin mōbilitās and starts using in late Middle English 1375-1425 by the term mobilite.

Now, the word itself and its social meaning take more than a couple of lines to explain and discuss but, needless to say, we are not here for it; this is definitely not the right place.

For sure, neither are we here to reinvent the wheel, it is almost ten years since we started rendering the web navigable across devices. Therefore, all of you know that every website and platform must be mobile ready by now, who’s going to neglect such a basic fact?

Charts are always helpful.

Just some charts here give us a fairly substantial picture, if anything, about the importance of the so-called mobile market.

Average time spent browsing on a smartphone (August 2016, USA, UK, Italy, Spain)

Browsing on Smartphones

Mobile stats vs desktop users (Global)

Mobile vs Desktop

Mobile share of online time (%, 2017)

Mobile share of online time

Percentages of consumers using mobile devices (2016)

[Thanks to ComScore for the charts.]

When people browse the web on the go, it is pretty different from when they are sitting before their desktop or laptop screens at home or office.

While on the move, our way of interacting changes, our perception changes, even our way of reading and so our attention. No frills for the itinerant reader and, please, shoot it out with those hideous banners! To be frank, I personally hate intruding banners on PCs too!

Programmers, web creators, and experts of marketing can see my point here.

I say experts of marketing and not marketers, because behind many of them “marketers,” there is a squad of specialists to animate the whole thing.

I appreciate very much the genius of actors at theater, but I appreciate much more the genius of the playwright. Yes, they are two different—and perhaps even non-interchangeable talents—however, at one end we have interpretation—which some consider reproduction—at the other we have invention and creativity. I guess you perfectly understand what I mean. So, please, be always on the lookout, there are so many ravenous wolves out there!

Okay, so what’s the point?

In their work to make platforms available for the mobile stuff, web masters and experts have always—yet not all—intelligently reduced the level of complexity in order to give out something functional and effective.

The winner-take-all tactics here is Simplicity, meant as Straightforwardness and Uncomplicatedness. Or, go straight to the point and take out all complications, if you prefer.

One of the shortcomings I still see today in some websites is that inadequate and unseemly difference between web and mobile site that makes them look two worlds apart. Inconsistency does never sound good!

Yes, to fill in the space is a common tendency, and I understand that one may well use their space accordingly, but “cramming” is never the answer.

Let’s focus on this concept of Mobility

I am absolutely convinced that this concept of mobility, which in my opinion implies certain fluidity of thinking, requires total simplicity. A new minimalist redesign, if you will. You can see this at work on many websites and platforms now. This one included.

When I say “fluidity of thinking,” I am not speaking of the ability to see new things or move towards new social directions. I am just speaking of that inclination to get used to the spirit of the time. People’s behavior needs to be relevant. This is not a voluntary condition; it is imposed by the social game. Sad but true! In philosophy it is called by the German word Zeitgeist [spirit of the age or spirit of the time].

So, websites and web services, more and more urged by this growing mobility, which is not only a matter of devices as it is ingrained in people’s behavior and thinking, must meet these minimum requirements:

  1. Minimalist design to emphasize content
  2. Elegant layout as to be striking yet plain vanilla
  3. Content as a mix of wordings, images and videos wisely combined to convey a clear message
  4. No room for misunderstandings
  5. Straight to the point, few words and the right pictures to impress the viewer and send the unequivocal message
  6. Extremely easy navigation

Gone are the days for special effects. Let’s admit, most of which were actually flashy and horrible.

In times like these, where information is too much, worries are too many, and offers are too many, exciting experiences are welcome but they must sound comfy and relaxing.

You certainly have grasped that this mobility implies precariousness. Hence, since all that is precarious is unstable, the sought after answer cannot but be certitude. Obviously, certitude cannot allow for contradictions, neither can it rely on verbosity nor complexity.

Boiling it down.

The way content is placed becomes integral part of the design itself.

Things must be simple, functions intuitive, and words few but significant and easily understandable. Use one line to say what usually takes ten.

Who is king content or image? Both are! Thus, let image be part of your content and vice versa.

At the same time, your images must speak. Use amazing pictures but use them consistently. They must fit into your copy or page. And remember, do not stuff your images with text.

However, I use to consider wording and pictures (images and videos) as content.

So, the dispute about which between content or image is due to be king, as for me is a misplaced question.

Make it plain to read, easy to understand, and cushy to see, and you are half done.

By Bob Mazzei, owner of Sienda ltd. Webpreneur, economist and social analyst. 

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