The History of Mobile Responsiveness

February 24, 2017
Globe with world map and circuit board in background

For a long time, mobile websites were not an important part of web design, because only a small percentage of web searches came from mobile devices. By 2010, search engines saw a shift in the way searches were taking place. Queries were now coming from mobile devices with increasing frequency. Newer devices like iPhones and Android phones could now process websites in real time in the same way as a desktop computer. Web traffic from phones exploded in the next several years, jumping from 4% of all traffic in 2010 to 10.5% in 2012.

This was due, in large part to the advent of the m. mobile site. The m. replaced the www. at the beginning of a web domain and was a completely separate version of that website. This separate version was optimized for mobile devices and was much faster and more intuitive for mobile users. As even more people were searching, developers found designing a completely new site was unwieldly. They had to do twice the work that they used to, so they began searching for an alternative.

In 2013, web developers had developed what they called a responsive website – a site that adjusted to the screen that was viewing it. This allowed designers to use one website document and edit the CSS (Stylesheet) to make the website respond and adapt to whatever screen it is being viewed from. This changed the game for mobile searches and web traffic. It also changed the status quo for developers, who could now take all of their websites and optimize them for web browsing.

The inherent advantage of a website that is viewable on desktops and mobile devices seems obvious. Someone searching for a product or service can see a relevant website at their home or work on a computer, or they can find the same site on the go, via mobile device. With cellphones being nearly universal, this provides a distinct advantage, especially at the local level, where the device will target search results based on location of the phone at the time of the search.

By 2014, 25% of all web traffic was mobile, more than doubling in just two years. Mobile searches on Google accounted for 29% of all searches at that same time. As the use of responsive sites grew, so too did peoples’ reliance on them. In just two more years, mobile has become the dominant form of web browsing. 52.7% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, while 58% of all search queries now come from mobile devices. In 2016, Google – the world’s leading search engine – took action to help optimize the World Wide Web for mobile-friendliness.

Check back later for part two of the importance of mobile optimization for your clients’ websites. And, as always, contact BPL for more information on any web design and content as you need it.

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