The Evolution of Web Interface Design - From PC to Mobile & PC
In the growing world of mobile, the biggest challenge for web design is how maintain speed and of ease of use whilst still looking sleek and fresh across multi-platforms.So far in 2012 smartphone usage has exceeded those of personal computers, and according to IDC forecast, it’s inevitable that by 2015 there will be more mobile Internet users than PC users. Nielsen reported that Internet searches are the most popular online activity on the phones (73 per cent of users conduct online searches by mobile now, compared with 30 percent a year ago.
As a result of this shift, it’s becoming consistent that web interface design across platforms is influenced by mobile app design revealing bigger fonts & buttons, longer pages that encourage you to scroll more, java-script interaction, and welcoming layouts. And, putting important content ‘above the fold’, and linking between separate ‘pages’ are becoming “unfashionable. The trend, better known as ‘app-ification,’ offers consumers the same enjoyable experience they get with their native mobile apps in their computer browsers.
Of course, the iPad, has been the longest leading influence when it comes to addressing the way content is created and consumed on smaller devices. Realizing people are usually on their phones and tablets when they are on the move, using their devices to read books, browse the web and watch video, Apple initiated simple clean designs, OS inspired buttons, modal windows and context windows which can all now be found in the web environment, iPadification, as the phenomenon was named, also in 2011, has gone so far as to appear as the design inspiration for today’s Google Chrome web store.
As small, medium and large business owners are trying to stay ahead of the curve, they are adjusting their design on PCs. Take Kayak.com, a leading site in the travel industry. Finding much of their traffic now comes from users en route, aka on their mobile devices, they have modeled the design of their desktop website to appear as their mobile app. The simplicity of its new layout keeps it user-friendly while adding a newer and cleaner look, less ads, and more obvious navigation tabs at the top of the page. The company claims, “Conversion rates are increasing while completion times are coming up shorter.”
Financial Times, a leading news site, is also a model for exemplifying how to make cross-platform sites a priority. Their mobile and desktop interfaces are uniform in layout, fitted with gorgeous artwork, and have easy scrolling of top headlines.
In 2011 Chrome began using the mobile app concept in the creating of the new desktop Mega Button, a simple enough small green button adjacent to the URL bar, the user can click and a small toolbar appears underneath the address bar, which contains all the necessary icons for every task. The button gives more options and saves the user the time it used to take to scroll through the menu using the used to spanner button.
The lines are getting blurred between the various web environments as the mobile products, smart phones and tablets become faster and smoother and web designers, developers and businesses will continue to define the space with those attributes in mind.