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In 2015, the number of searches conducted on a mobile surpassed the number of searches conducted on desktop. By this point, most businesses are in the process of shifting their website to a mobile-friendly interface if they aren't already there and everywhere you look, digital blogs are emphasizing the need to be apart of a mobile-first future. As much as it is important to follow this shift towards mobile, it is equally as important to recognise that desktop did not disappear into a puff of smoke. Even though desktop is a dying breed, it is a while yet before the last larger computing device goes dark for the last time. This article reviews why it is important to optimize for both the mobile and desktop experience for the time being.

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Why You Need to Optimize for Both Mobile and Desktop?

Why design for mobile and desktop?

Mobile and desktop offer entirely different experiences. Let’s look at some distinct ways they are different:

  • Screen size: Obviously, the screen size for mobile vs desktop is completely different and a CTA button that may look great on a mobile device, may not serve the same impact on desktop. With less space on a mobile, users are given different types of choices and have more compact navigation, different formats and layouts, less copy and larger type.
  • User intention and behaviour: A user’s behaviour on a mobile can be very different from a desktop. Consider how mobile users interact with their phones. They are looking for the micro-moment (Google) answers to questions they need right now: the how-do-I-fix-this moments or the where-do-I-get-this moments. Whereas a desktop user typically has more time and is less on the move. The design of a website should cater to each device to drive the highest conversions from each.
  • Geographical information: Currently mobile devices are much more effective at tracking user location via GPS than desktop. Desktop is beginning to track location via IP addresses, however, the services offered on mobile are much more sophisticated with local search results based on geo, photo-tagging options, weather alerts, directions and more.
  • Connectivity: With mobile, users are always connected and can be distracted or alerted by push notifications every time they look at their phone. With desktop, once the screen is turned off there really is no way for the machine to distract the user. Mobile is always online, whereas desktop isn’t.

How to optimize for both mobile and desktop

The starting point in understanding how to optimize for mobile and desktop is to take a little time to strategically think about how each type of visitor is using your website. How far into their user journey are they? Which products, services or actions on your site are more likely to be purchased or completed on a mobile instead of a desktop and vice versa? Who is your audience and how do they use their various devices? Once you have answered these questions you can begin to map out some design features for certain pages to optimize your website for both mobile and desktop users.

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