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The rise and rise of mobile.

by  David Dwyer on  02/01/2015

4G & out of home WIFI - enabling high speed mobile internet access

Time was when mobile phones were the size of bricks and you could only make phone calls on them - and then only when there was enough signal, which was hopeless in large parts of the country. Then they got smaller, coverage got bigger, connection rates improved from Edge (2G) to 3G, but accessing the internet was still a slow process.

Now 4G has arrived. Convergence has meant Phones becoming multi-functional devices with all sorts of whizz-bang features, and all that's history. Accessing the internet on the go via your mobile or phablet is actually quicker and easier than it is on your laptop or PC and, as of early December 2014, for the first time 50.3% of internet users accessed the web from their mobiles.  In case you missed that: over half of internet access is via mobiles.

We now spend more time on our mobiles than watching TV or using PCs. And most of the time we aren't making phone calls: we're trying to find stuff out. Where's the nearest restaurant? How much money's left in my bank account? When's the next bus to Birnam?

Stagecoach now offer free wi-fi on their buses and other companies are already following suit. For example, if a hotel wants to join the Best Western group it has to offer free wi-fi.

Much like the Kevin Bacon advert, the other day I passed a bus stop where six people were waiting for the bus. Four of them were using their phones. Not one of them was holding the phone to his or her ear: they were all reading the screen.

So it makes sense for businesses to optimise their websites for mobile use. And I don't just mean making what you already have easy to read on a small screen. People use the internet differently when they're out and about. They tend to want specific information; they're not usually just browsing. How do I get to that new pub? What's the Emergency phone number of my dentist and can I get an appointment to fix my tooth that's just broken? Is there a vet in town? Where's the nearest garage, so I don't have to walk 5 miles the wrong way to get a can of petrol?

Google tell us that more than 80% of local searches done on mobile devices are looking for a phone number. That's the information that needs to be obvious and easy to find on a mobile-specific landing page.
It's not necessarily what needs to be on the landing page when the site is accessed at home or at work. Businesses that want to lead rather than follow really need two sites now, one for users on the go (e.g. mobile) and another for people sitting at their desks.
Mobile phones have evolved, so our behaviour has evolved - now websites are having to evolve. Remember Darwin? Only the fittest-for-purpose will survive.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David's academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

Disruptive not Disrupting Tech, Mobile Apps, Mobile Websites, Responsive Web Design, Smart Phones, Sticky Websites, Technology Innovation, The Evolving Web, UI, User Interface, Web Design
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