Are Desktop Websites Still Relevant In This Mobile Age?
The world has gone mobile and there is no escaping it. The screens of our all-important smartphones have become our informational lifeline for nearly a decade now, the release of the first iPhone in 2007 changing the way we see websites forever. Gone are the days of the shared family computer where the wonders of the web were available only from a desktop screen with minimal to zero privacy from our immediate environment.
Today, everything we need from finance to fitness to sports to shopping is accessible from one incredible device that rests easily — if not permanently — in the clutch of our hands.
So why are desktop websites still relevant?
1. Going mobile is an opportunity and a challenge.
For companies who can afford to invest in the development of a responsive mobile website, it’s an opportunity they simply cannot flout. For middle-of-the-road businesses that might have limited resources, keeping up with the constant updating of mobile operating systems could be a challenge.
Designing, testing and debugging for mobile is an altogether different task since mobile users require an altogether different experience.
For example, having several layers of pages on a mobile website could lead to visitor frustration when trying to find information that’s not readily available on one page. Whereas on a desktop website, it’s all about the exploration.
There are two solutions in having a user-friendly mobile website.
One is to build an entirely separate mobile website from its ‘parent’ desktop site.
Another solution is to have a responsive website that’s carefully mapped so that when a user visits the site on a smartphone the functionality is not lost. In this sense, investing in a responsive desktop website can be wieldy and cost-effective.
2. Consumer habits are varied.
Once upon a time there was a clear line between the behavioural habits and the buying habits of Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) customers. These days that clear line is no longer.
From years of experience we’ve noticed that when working in eCommerce B2B environments people tend not to access websites on smaller devices. They seem to have a different buying cycle, not committing to a purchase straight away as a B2C customer might. B2B users are also likely to view websites in the relative comfort of their office hence it’s still important to create a pleasant desktop experience. However, with the nature of our professional lives being diversified in recent years, we are almost always on the move and frequently access our emails and websites from our smartphones.
The same switchable habits apply with B2C customers who often have a want-it-now approach to buying. Mobile websites and apps satisfy this impulse but it still doesn’t stop B2C customers from visiting desktop websites to get a ‘clearer’ view of their desired product and possibly even look for comparisons on other websites.
3. Engagement does not equal commitment.
Using social networks to engage in with brands and businesses has become the norm, and now social media giants like Facebook and Instagram are inviting businesses to use their platform for online selling.
And yet, the opportunity is still available for e-commerce businesses to conquer the retail arena with a responsive desktop website.
Prospective customers browsing products on Facebook can leave the queue any moment should they be distracted by their environment or even the app itself. The onus is therefore on your website to win your followers’ custom and seal the commitment.
Ultimately, it matters less which device your website is viewed from. It matters more that it has responsive design and engaging content that helps you convert visitors to customers.
Stephen Fry is famously quoted for saying that,
'Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators,’
…and I think the same rings true for desktop websites when pitched against mobile websites. Still, with the rapid speed of technological innovation, the possibilities are endless.