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Does Website Design Really Matter In An Increasing Mobile World?

Does website design really matter in an increasing mobile world?

I’m asking this question to start a discussion, my quick answer is I just don’t know, my heart says I hope it does, but my experience  with emerging technology says no.

I’m asking myself “Have I been spending too much time looking for the perfect responsive theme when it just does not matter?”  As I said I’m starting a discussion here, please let me know what you think, in particular if you are a designer I would love your input.

We Are Moving Towards A Mobile World

Like it or not we are moving towards a world where our WordPress sites are primarily accessed by people using mobile devices not desktop.  Space is limited and something will have to go.

Will the design aspects of the WordPress theme we take for granted on a desktop machine be slowly phased out?

Big menus, popups, slide in, video background.  Do those types of feature have a place on the phone screen as they do on the desktop?

What Do I mean By Design?

Lets separate out two areas of design:

  1. UX or the placement of buttons, menus images etc, I call that functional design I still think this is very important on mobile.
  2. Prettyfication, colours, fancy page transitions, image backgrounds, header background videos.  This is the aspect of design I think might be on the way out.

Limited Screen Real Estate

The reason I think design will be greatly reduced on mobile WordPress themes is simply one of space.

My iPhone is 13cm across about 5 inches, that’s limited real estate.  We need to build function and brevity into that space not fancy schamncy design aspects.

We are constrained and if we add too much the screen becomes cramped and the website unusable.

AMP

Google are evolving a new technology called AMP.  It stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.  The point of this is to reduce download times and speed up the use of websites on mobile.

Here is a link to one of  my posts on AMP https://wpdude.com/cdn/amp

All I can do is set colours, a basic logo and that’s it, Google doesn’t want any more, all they want is the content.  Your JavaScript pop-up won’t work on AMP, your sound effects on click, don’t even go there.

This technology is what makes me think design is being curtailed on mobile.

App Design

Another thing that is making me think design on mobile is contracting is App design,  click on any of your favourite apps and you will see a consistent design across all of the top apps, a hamburger menu, a gear icon for settings, lots of white space and not too much design, there is not enough space for anything else, just design for function.

My Experience Looking For  A new Theme

I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking for a new theme and a big part of that was seeing how the theme looked on mobile.

Lots of desktop theme were really appealing to me but when I flipped to responsive mode there were design aspects that made no sense, popover navigation menus, page rendering graphics.

The experience from desktop was replicated on mobile and it looked rubbish.

Wrap Up – Does Design Really Matter In An Increasing Mobile World?

No definitive answers I’m afraid just what I’m seeing, and the start of a discussion.

Google doesn’t want bells and whistles when delivering a mobile experience they want function.

Our apps are spartan.

Screens are limited in space.

So my question to you again, how much does website design really matter in our increasingly mobile view? To the comments with you …

Photo Credit: byronv2 Flickr via Compfight cc

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4 Responses to “Does Website Design Really Matter In An Increasing Mobile World?”

  1. Lise April 27, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    I’ve just had to do away with many design elements to make my site more mobile friendly. Since 70% of my customers are on mobile, it was a no brainer. Your article is timely and since the bottom line is more sales or more audience, then design goes. I bet in the future there will be more themes that optimize for mobile while still having some nice design elements.

  2. Rob van den Braak April 27, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    At blokboek.com we think that design next to content quality is very important. The problem we have is the shift from a large screen to mobile devices. From just 15% 3 years ago now + 30% of our readers are using a small screen. And even using a responcice theme is not the answer to optimize our site for mobile. Its about the design, the lenght of the headers, text, image sizes. So we think we will end up with two sites, one for large screens and one for mobile. Waiting is for software that can help us with this task, any idea anyone?

    • Neil Matthews April 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

      I’ve been investigating native apps that pull content from the wordpress backend – shoutem.com, wiziapp, apppresser.com

  3. craigypoos April 30, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    Perhaps this new design shift reflects a change from text-focused content to video and audio. How necessary is attractive design on mobile if most consumers will be getting their content from video and audio players?

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