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Mobile vs Desktop Design: Beauty and the Beast

Brian

More and more websites are testing designs that are inspired by mobile apps. We've seen that the New York Times website, Facebook, CMS platforms like Drupal sites, and even the entire Windows 8 operating system have all been redesigned to look consistent, whether you're on your smartphone or your desktop.

 

Why did this monkey business happen? One big reason is because of the rise of native mobile apps beginning with Apple's mobile app store in 2008. Which was also the huge surge in smartphone users connecting to the web led everyone to rethink the best practices of interactive design.

 

If you remember, the previous standard for design used to be overloading every inch of the screen with pictures, things to click on, and calls to action. As we all know, though, smartphones' small screens have no room for that, and busy smartphone users don't have the time to scroll through a messy website.

 

As anyone who has ever used iPad or other tablet knows, even though it's possible to view a website designed for desktop, it's so much easier to navigate a mobile design. And as some tablets start to blur the lines between mobile devices and desktop devices, as in the case of the Microsoft Surface, many websites are looking to make their user experience consistent.

 

As Business Insider notes, the convergence of desktop and mobile design "may be the rare area where Google and Microsoft agree: Google is in the process of changing how it sells advertising, with the goal of getting marketers to put less emphasis on whether they're placing ads on desktop or mobile devices. Users on tablets behave very similarly to users on desktops, Google argues. Why target ads to them differently?"

 

This kind of thinking is the reason why website builders as different as Facebook and the New York Times are making very similar moves. After all, people want clean, gorgeous, simple, smart interfaces on their mobile devices. Why would they want something different on their desktop?

 

It's been five years since Apple's App Store changed the way we connect to the internet. Since then we've been in a transitional period as we figure out (and merge) "mobile" and "desktop" interactive design. But now, we're seeing well-designed websites span all devices, and one thing is clear:

No matter how you look at the internet or what device you use, things are looking great.

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