Thinking about Mobile Content Yet?

Mobile devices - December 2013My library’s web developer, Nathan Pauley, shared this article with me: The Mobile Moment, by Luke Wroblewski. In the article, Luke discusses how processes, priorities, and product thinking change when the majority of your web traffic shifts from desktop to mobile devices.

Probably a good thing to start thinking about now, rather than later. Why? Well, in my library’s case, we are getting closer all the time. For example, the image included in this post shows mobile visits for my library’s website for December 2013:

  • Blue = desktop website visits (67.4%)
  • Green = mobile device visits (20.3%)
  • Red = tablet device visits (12.3%)

So … add the mobile and tablet percentages together, and you get 32.6%. Almost 33% of web traffic coming from some type of mobile device! What was that percentage a year ago? A whopping 17.6%. If that rate continues, we’ll be around 50% mobile traffic in another year. Wowser!

What should we be thinking about when we hit 50% mobile traffic? Here are some thoughts – please add yours!

  • Responsive website, or at least some form of mobile website. That’s why my library is going responsive (our redesign should be live by the end of January!).
  • Mobile-friendly content. It’s not enough to have web-friendly content. Think about making that content mobile-friendly, too.
  • Easy ways to share, like, and interact with social media sites.
  • Quick ways to connect to library staff and to library content directly from a customer’s mobile device.

What else? Let’s get this mobile thing figured out!

  • Michael Schofield

    I’d throw-in that at this stage a responsive website–meaning, really, the squishiness of the site–isn’t enough, but it needs to be mobile-first. The great majority of responsive websites today still load the same assets for mobile as they do for desktop: that’s images (56% of the weight of the web), multiple scripts, thousands of lines of unnecessary css, bloated markup.

    Responsive web design isn’t enough because the most important feature of “responsive” is performance, since 74% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load on a phone.

    Even if it’s a killer looking library website on a phone, if users have to wait for content, or worse the content / image doesn’t load because their 3G connections suck, then the mobile experience is a negative one.

    If users are going to hit your site on underpowered machines–phones, tablets …–and, godforbid, they’re on 3G, libraries need to serve just enough to deliver the content with as few HTTP requests (images, scripts, stylesheets) as possible.

    As more screen width becomes available you can then infer that the connection is better, that the computer is more powerful, and lazy-load fluff CSS and scripts that add pizzazz.

    Just food for thought : ).

  • davidleeking

    You’re right – we probably do need to be creating mobile-first content and websites. In Kansas, we will definitely have web visitors using 3G and probably even the older Edge network (yikes).

    Good stuff – thanks for sharing!

  • Michael Schofield

    NP :). I wanted to chime in because while it’s AWESOME that RWD is increasingly mainstream in libraries, most of the conference talks, webinars, etc. really are all about the visual. But there are some major pitfalls if the library doesn’t think about the whole user experience of the site, namely (in this order): it loads fast, it loads on all devices [fast], the content is the same between devices and browsers, the content that loads is content I care about, and LASTLY whether the content in pretty wrapping.

    And, like, you know when you try to access a slow website how it puts a cloud over the whole interaction.

    Oh, and almost as importantly, that there isn’t an inaccessible, motion-sickness inducing, auto-sliding, javascript and image heavy carousel that users don’t interact with. But I digress :) :) :).

    Here are some time killers:

    Average Page Weights of 2013 Increase 32%

    The Server Side of Responsive Design

    (Dave Olsen also created “Detector”,, which is a modernizr+ua-sniffing tool that helps with the server side of RWD)

    Luke Wroblewski’s conference notes about “20MB Responsive Websites” presented by Mat Marquis. Basically how responsive design can go waaaay wrong.

    Transcript and Audio of interview with Google’s Ilya Grigorik, speed guru. “So Speed is a feature, right?” He also has a book by O’Reilly about High Performance Browser Networking. Basically, he’s really really interested in serving whole websites in under 1 second.

    And pluggy pluggy, a presentation I gave awhile ago. “Future Friendly Web Design for Libraries”