Category: Mobile Web

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Mobile-first, mobile-last, mobile everything

By Dave Haygarth   November 12, 2020  

You don't need me to tell you that smartphones are becoming a bigger part of daily life for us all with almost every breath, Users of mobile phones reached 3 billion users worldwide back in 2019, with the figure - fairly predictably - set to climb over the next few years, with nearly 4 billion by the end of 2021. [source: Newzoo]

But your traditional perception of a web user interface designer  - sitting behind a very large Mac screen is probably pretty much bang on. The nature of user interface design is visually intensive and if someone's going to site 'pushing pixels around' all day, then they need a decent workstation.

But that leads to a problem.  And it extends far beyond the designer. Right down the chain of people involved in commissioning, prototyping, testing, designing, tweaking, coding ... we're pretty much all sat with comfortable large screens and that's why the idea of designing a website (or even just small parts of the user interface) has tended to err towards a desktop experience, and mobile experience - when it came along in the first part of the last decade - was 'bolted on'.  People had got into bad habits that with the growth of mobile usage, were on a course towards disaster.
The big G.
The course we're being steered on here, inevitably, is being spearheaded by Google.  They have numbers, algorithm, and what basically amounts to a bit of common sense. THEY know the deal.  THEY know that people use mobiles. So they introduced the 'mobile-first' concept - firstly as a ranking signal in 2015, then rolled out more publicly back in 2016.
So what does 'mobile-first' mean?
To us, it's a culture. We started to use different tools back in 2016.  We started to 'release' bespoke designs to some clients as 'mobile' but, soon had to back-pedal on that, as it confused the heck of some people who were checking the design - sat in their office - on that comfy chair and big screen!  Still, however, the concept rules. Our design team use tools that are based around mobile - and frameworks in the templating systems that stem from mobile.  (Think: big thumbs on small buttons, and all those kind of no-no things)

We proudly switched to Invision for user interface prototyping and concepts. At the time, it was a relative gamble, but worldwide, it proved a good horse to back, and is pretty much indispensable now.
Mobile-first: Not just about mobile
It's so much more about whether your site looks and feels good at people's fingertips. By making a site work well on small screens, the side-effect is to force us to make sites more accessibility-friendly. If a site works well on mobile, it is likely to work well on all devices.

Smaller screens also have a tendency to make you think about pushing important things to the top of a screen.  [Think: "sidebar"] - with limited display space, you have to really work out what is important and what is less so.

Your branding also had to evolve as we got onto smaller screens. Logos that move out of the way once you've seen them. Menus that only appear when you need them. Space is of a premium.

Take a look at the image below.

Mobile-first best practice design
Mmmm... burgers
One final thought. The good old burger menu. Contrary to popular belief, the hamburger menu actually originated way, way before smart phones. If any of you are old enough (like me!) to remember those state-of-the-art Xerox Star, the 'system' menu actually came from those.

... but there is something just so "right" about how some things just work on limited space. And the burger is one of them.

McDonald's even got one designed for them

On that note, I'm off for lunch.
Dave.

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Mobile overtakes desktop

By Dave Haygarth   November 3, 2016  
They predicted 2016 a long time ago and in October 2016, it happened. 51.3% mobile and tablet browsing and the desktop’s at 48.7%.  No surprises, really. Not if, but when... etc.It's an interesting landmark though.  Especially for those of us who, to our shame,remember the birth of the internet know what a dial-up modem sounds like still (to their shame and disgust) spend most of the day in front of a desktop device.The web is truly mobile now. If we include the internet of things, then desktop computers are as good as gone. Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, said: “This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not." We've been saying this for... well .. it seems like too long now. "Is your website mobile friendly?" may as well now be replaced with the much simpler "Is your website friendly?".Please stop looking at your website as some poster displayed on a large screen to impress your clients and start thinking about it as the powerful, portable app it truly should be, and get it earning for you. Contact us to find out what to do next!
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Banging the mobile drum — is your website in tune?

By Steve Riley   July 3, 2015  
At the risk of banging an all-too familiar drum, we've just stumbled across some interesting data from the Indeed blog.You've heard us urging you to stay tuned to the growing trend towards mobile use before. It's a trend anyone in recruitment simply cannot afford to ignore.Even in 2014, Indeed reported that 50% of job searches were on mobile devices.This statistic almost exactly matches our own analysis of 100,000 website visits across dozens of our recruitment sites (Indeed boast around 140 million unique monthly visitors).But it goes beyond absolute numbers: "Employers who accept mobile applications receive twice as many quality applicants."  You get more and better candidates by designing for mobile.Competing for the best talent means reaching high quality candidates in a way that suits them ...even if this is 8pm Sunday night on their iPhone. So a great recruitment site needs to be:accessible slick touch-friendly fast to load fast to apply able to use CVs stored on the cloud ...a great user experience.If you were ever in doubt that you need to design and build a mobile-friendly or responsive site, stop doubting right now. Start planning for a new website.    Sources: blog.indeed.co.uk/2014/07/28/mobile-now-accounts-for-half-of-all-job-searches www.socialtalent.co/blog/mobile-job-search 
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Responsive required?

By Steve Riley   February 16, 2015  
Last week we tweeted about the shift in expectations amongst website users about the way sites should respond intelligently to the device they're using. Sites that do this well are called Responsive Websites — crafting the layout to provide for an optimal viewing experience, across a range of devices, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones, via tablet and laptop.We believe responsive websites are no longer ‘nice to have’ and should now be considered essential. Users expect more from a contemporary design. It may demand extra code for the developers and require more care to produce, but the statistics tell a compelling story. On our own site for the most recent month, 15% of traffic comes from mobile and tablet users. If we don’t cater well for these visitors we’re effectively turning away 1 in 7 potential clients. Nobody in their right mind would do that would they?But read on. But WAIT… Looking at the Google Analytics we manage for our own clients, the figures are far more dramatic. For a fairly arbitrary selection of six clients, we see that between 28–65% of visitors are coming to the site from non-traditional (mobile or tablet) devices.The figures tend to be higher for our recruitment agency clients. Thinking about how people job hunt, they're more likely to be using their own connection in working hours than the corporate network.One recent recruiter shows an astounding 63% of visitors using mobiles, iPads and other tablets. The client wasn't sure they needed a responsive site, but a quick look at the figures demonstrated this was critical for them. This was a repeat client for us and we already knew their visitor demographic from the analytics, so this showed the absolute necessity for a responsive new site. Google loves mobile Do a search on your mobile (any search you like, we're not trying to rig the results).Notice how the first page of results shows ‘Mobile-friendly’ sites first? That alone, should be reason enough to use a responsive site for your business.The SEO benefits are massive.The user experience (UX) of a site is now a key ranking factor for Google, so if you're not giving careful thought for your users and their devices, you'll be down the rankings. Sanity check How do you know how well you're performing at the moment? Use a handy tool like responsinator to check what your current site looks like right now on different devices. Are you satisfied with the results?As the screen space available increases more of the home page can fit on the screen and the layout can make sensible choices about which elements to render and where.  Goodbye to 'above the fold'? An interesting by product of the move towards mobile friendly sites is that vertical scrolling is no longer seen as the sin it once was. You still need to tickle people’s interest with rich, interesting content high up the screen, and guide them with prompts to drill-down to content further down the page. But the once overwhelming urge to get everything ‘above the fold’ simply isn't an issue.Users expect to scroll now, simple as that. Some sites have almost gone full circle and back to a very simple graphical, ‘landing area’ (not the same as the dreaded ‘CLICK TO ENTER’ landing page from the early days!). All the good stuff off the page is reached from the landing area, either from menus or in-page links.  Conclusion We believe making a site responsive should be high on your list of requirements for any new site. Depending on your niche, it might be critical. Keep an eye on your analytics to see where existing traffic is coming from. The proportion coming from mobiles and tablets is only ever going to rise in our view.For another view Dave Bancroft compared the pros and cons of mobile vs responsive sites in an earlier post.
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Dedicated mobile websites vs. responsive recruitment websites — which is best?

By Dave Haygarth   March 7, 2014  
I’ve been asked this quite a lot lately, so felt it a good time to blog about it.At Reverse Delta, we specialise in recruitment websites, and provide both dedicated mobile recruitment websites as well as responsive recruitment sites. About Responsive Web Design A ‘responsive’ website resizes and re-orders itself to fit best on the screen it is being displayed upon. For example, our own website when viewed on desktop (or tablet) compared to smartphone:On a smartphone, the top menu becomes a single dropdown and the right hand sidebar appears below the main content. We actually also hide some content from mobile. About Our Mobile Recruitment Sites Our mobile recruitment sites ‘feel’ similar to using a native iPhone app, but without the need to be listed in, and require users to download from an ever-growing App store.They use the latest mobile technology and are optimised, both in screen-size and page ‘weight’ for smartphones. When somebody visits your site using a smartphone, the website ‘knows’ and automatically displays the mobile site. There is also a link to display the ‘desktop’ (i.e. full size) version of the site.On tablets we display the full site, but there is coding in place to allow candidates to apply without uploading a CV as this is not typically possible on a tablet or smartphone.As an example, our client Aldelia have a desktop job site as well as a dedicated mobile job site (incidentally they also decided to have a separate client-focused, responsive website)So Which is “Best”? I’m not sure there is a right answer really – it depends on your situation. Instead, I’ll highlight some pros and cons that will hopefully help you decide. The Case for a Dedicated Mobile WebsiteOur mobile ‘web app’ runs in a browser so does not need to be downloaded from the app store, and is cross-platform so it works as well on Android (and Windows and Blackberry) as it does on iPhone. Like all good apps, it is focused on one thing specifically, and it does it well: that is searching and applying to jobs. You can make it easy to navigate by just including the most important content for those ‘on the go’. So, this is very much a candidate-focused experience, although there is also the opportunity to add other pages of content to your mobile site. We provide a separate content management system (CMS) for our mobile sites, as we find our clients prefer to put cut-down ‘bite size’ chunks of information on their mobile sites, and not to have as much imagery (e.g. slideshows) as these can slow the site down.  We are not yet in a 4G world (in fact many of us still struggle to get a decent 3G connection). Video can also work well on mobile, but does need a decent connection. If you have a website already, adding a dedicated mobile site will usually be the cheaper option, rather than re-building your existing site to be responsive.The Case Against a Dedicated Mobile WebsiteYou have two sites to manage (although this is fairly straightforward given you can copy, paste and edit as necessary). If your developers are making changes, they may need to be made on two code bases. Your users get a different experience on smartphones than they do on tablets and desktops. The focus is on ‘actions’ (searching and applying) and typically has less information for those looking for more details about your services. People visiting pages that only exist on your ‘full’ site from a smartphone will see the desktop sites page, which may not be well optimised for the smaller screen.The Case for a Responsive WebsiteYou have a single website to manage.   Changes to your website can be seen on all devices. Your users get a similar experience regardless of the device they are using. You can target both clients and candidates as the content is the same regardless of the device. Google recommends responsive web design, possibly because it makes it easier for Google to only index a single site, so for Google-based SEO this may be the better option.  Also you do not have to run separate SEO campaigns for your mobile and desktop sites. (Do note that SEO is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive in crowded markets such as recruitment, so is only one part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. See my previous post "Is SEO Dead".) If you are having a new website designed, then responsive should certainly be a consideration, for future-proofing, but good user interface design is important to ensure ease of navigation.The Case Against a Responsive WebsiteAs previously mentioned, bandwidth can be an issue if your site is heavy on use of imagery. If you have a lot of pages on your site, it can be tricky to navigate it on a smartphone.  (Our own experience of scores of clients’ web analytics also tells us that these ‘about / info’ pages are rarely, if ever, visited, anyway – but that’s another story.) Budgetary constraints should also be considered; currently doing responsive websites well is hard work:  the tools are less widely available, and effort in design, development and especially in testing increases because the site has to be designed to work on a myriad of different screen sizes and platforms. In short: it is more costly. It is also difficult to ‘retro-fit’ responsive into an existing website, as responsiveness has to be considered at design time.Conclusion For a candidate focused experience while we still do not have prevalent 4G networks, the mobile web app may be the better route.If you already have a website, adding a dedicated mobile site will be the cheaper and quicker option.If you are having a new website designed, responsive should be considered, depending on your target audience.If Google-based SEO is paramount, then responsive will be the better option, but bear in mind the additional set up costs.If you are unsure which route to take, you can of course have both, with the mobile website allowing the visitor to view the full site by simply clicking a button or link.

Mobile’s interminable rise

By Dave Haygarth   October 6, 2011  
After the sad passing of Steve Jobs today I was prompted to take a quick look at the web analytics of a client. We'd been discussing whether the mobile edition of FXRecruiter (our online recruitment software) would be a suitable tool for them to keep their candidates up-to-date. To get a picture of a proportion of (current) mobile browser use on their site is an important start... but to get a picture of where it's heading in the future is even more important. Just taking a look at the past month on the website compared to the same month last year, had 7.5% of its traffic from mobile devices last month.  In the same month for 2010 it was 3.6% - so it's a significant increase and the trend is most definitely upwards at a very high rate The advantages of a cut-down mobile version to contractors who would be nervous about using company computers to discreetly seek / apply for jobs are fairly obvious now that the world is becoming full of smart phones. Registered candidate gets their email alert > Clicks apply on the job from their mobile > much easier, much more discreet.
Mobile Browsing Trend - Year on Year

FXRecruiter goes Mobile!!

By Dave Haygarth   May 20, 2011  
I’m delighted to announce our new product – FXRecruiter Mobile Edition – a mobile recruitment website solution. It’s been in the labs for a while and now ready to be released into the wild! Mobile Edition is an add-on to the standard FXRecruiter system. It uses the same jobs and candidate database and you can administer it using FXRecruiter. Jobs posted to your website will automatically be displayed on your mobile site as well. People visiting an FXRecruiter website from one of the supported smart phone or mobile device will automatically be re-directed to the mobile version of the site, which is designed with the smaller mobile screens in mind. The home page takes candidates straight to the job search as this is likely to be their primary purpose for visiting the site.Is this an iPhone app? No, this is a mobile website which runs in a browser on the device – so no downloads are necessary. It is designed to be ‘finger-friendly’ on devices that have touch screen web browsers. We have designed it to look and function very similarly to a ‘native’ mobile app as this is what users expect and it also makes it simple and intuitive to use. Visitors to your website who are using a supported mobile device will be automatically re-directed to your mobile site.Why a mobile website rather than an app? We decided this way of doing things made most sense for our recruitment company clients. While iPhone apps make complete sense in some markets, we felt having an iPhone app for a recruitment company was unlikely to attract a considerable amount of downloads unless you are a high street brand or job board.The other benefit is that Mobile Edition not only works on iPhone, it also works on Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile/Phone and some of Nokia’s and Samsung’s platforms too, so has much greater coverage than an iPhone App. If you went the app route, you would also need to build dedicated apps for these devices: this could quickly push budgets out of the comfort zone of most recruitment companies. The reasons for going mobile Research repeatedly shows the growth in the use of mobile devices to access the internet. The European Interactive Advertising Association tells us that:71 million Europeans browse the mobile internet in a typical week for almost an hour a day Mobile internet in now a more frequent pastime than reading a book, magazine or newspaper 24% of 16-24 year-olds spend an average of 7.2 hours a week using the mobile internet 21% of 25-34 year-olds spend an average of 6.6 hours a week using the mobile internetSimilarly OFCOM reported in August 2010 that:26% of UK mobile users now have Smart Phones UK Ownership is up 81 per cent from 7.2 million users in May 2009 to 12.8 million in May 2010 23% of the UK’s mobile phone users now use their handsets to access the internet Surfing the internet via mobile phones is the fastest growing mobile media activity with 1 million new users during the first quarter of 2010 (taking the total to 13.5 million, compared to 9 million in the first quarter of 2009); A fifth (20 per cent) of the time 16-24s spend social networking is on a mobileHabits are changing, with reports of people browsing the web on iPads, iPhones and laptops while also watching TV as well as when on the go. Android, Blackberry and iPhone sales are still strong and these usage figures are continuing to grow. In short: if you are a recruiter, your prospective candidates may not be able to access your website during the day from a PC, but many may have a powerful smart phone with high speed internet in their pockets. Registered candidates can also respond instantly when they receive a job alert: helping the candidate and you get the job placed quicker.The challenges of mobile One size does not fit all! We worked long and hard to find the best technology to develop Mobile Edition with. The pace of change in the mobile web development space is very fast and after going back to the drawing board after our first attempt, we finally settled on HTML 5 and advanced Javascript. Although this has delayed us, we think the re-working was worth it – it provides a rich app-like user experience and interaction, and it also very fast as we have used techniques to shrink the size of the pages. Suffice to say, we are really pleased with the results. The first client we showed it to simply said “awesome!” — great feedback!This advanced technology also presents a problem: some older devices do not yet support this technology – and there are still a lot of those devices about. Not to fear, we also have a more standard version that we automatically display if the browser on the device is not up to date: it’s not quite as slick but still works better than a full size website on these smaller screens. To do this, we use technology often called “browser sniffing” that detects the type of browser that is visiting the site. That way we can present the most appropriate version of the site. This ultimately means users will get the best experience that their mobile device or smart phone can provide. We are heavy iPhone and Android users and feel it’s almost as good as a native app at just a fraction of the cost. “OK Great I want It!” If you already have an FXRecruiter website, setting it up is easy! Our standard Mobile Edition allows you to customise the colours and fonts used; the job search filters and the information pages you want to display. If you want more advanced customisation then we can work with you to specify and design your mobile site around our standard offering. If you don’t already have an FXRecruiter, this is another good reason to seriously consider joining our growing portfolio of happy and profitable recruitment website owners! Contact us for more info

Instant phone reportage

By Dave Haygarth   January 16, 2009  
It shouldn't really surprise me that this type of thing happens, but somehow I find the power of the mobile internet amazing - still. I've been posting the odd photo to my personal photo blog directly from my phone for a couple of years now and get a little buzz each time I do it. But when something really big happens, like a plane crash in the Hudson river and someone like Janis Krums from Sarasota, Florida posts a photo of U.S. Airways flight 1549 on Twitter from his iPhone as he's on his way to rescue the survivors, it's still an amazing and powerful thing.Krums blogs the line: "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy." - unintentionally deadpan I think. Just as people were amazed of live coverage of the first man on the moon in 1969, forty years later we're all turning into live reporters.

The Power of the Global Web Marketplace

By Dave Haygarth   April 22, 2008  
Regular readers (yes, you two) may have recalled me advertising my "World's first MP3 player" for sale a few weeks ago.I jokingly said it was for sale. Well, the power of the web showed itself in full force.If you Google "Buy world's first MP3 player" you'll see my article at position 3 in the results.The world's a big place, and MP3 players are pretty popular, so I guess I should not be that surprised that it has sold for more money than it costs to buy an iPhone, to a US based buyer. Hey, thats all I asked for!Unlike the iPhone, this only stores 2 or 3 tracks, and is not also a phone!

Mobile Firefox: Maybe I won’t need an iPhone after all

By Dave Haygarth   January 26, 2008  
You may have read me whinging about iPhone limitations (mainly the fact it doesn't use 3G/HSDPA, but also the O2 lock-in).The iPhone's Safari browser is light years ahead of any other device when it comes to browsing the web on the go, and is by far the main reason I would like an iPhone.Looking at the previews of the new mobile version of Firefox is getting this geek excited. I really hope this will be as good as Safari for mobile browsing. If that is the case, I'll be happy to stick with my Windows Mobile.

Want broadband? Use your mobile

By Dave Haygarth   January 25, 2008  
I've been using my 3G mobile (a Nokia N73) to access the internet whilst out and about for some time now.  It seems a logical twinning; the 3G speed is fast (much quicker than dial up), but not lightening fast. When you're on a train or in another office at a meeting, you don't normally want to hammer bandwidth by downloading or streaming huge files anyway.Just before Christmas, 3 and T-Mobile announced they were merging their networks to improve mobile internet coverage - and to up the speed. By the end of 2009 they plan to have 13,000 sites, covering 98% of the population with a mobile broadband network capable of speeds up to 7.2 Mb per second - or nearly twice the current typical home broadband speeds - and nearly 20 times faster than existing 3G services.T-Mobile's 3G network now covers about 85% of the UK, while 3 covers about 90%. The geographic gaps will be plugged by the joint venture.Read more here on the Guardian's technology blog ... Want broadband? Use your mobile