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So you’ve just spent a ton of money redesigning your website and then suddenly your developer pipes up, “you’re going to need a mobile website.” You might as well have scaled up a mountain to find an identical but slightly larger mountain next. “Why bother if it’s basically the same thing? As long as the thing loads up who cares? How much is it going to cost, by the way?” Suddenly that mountain is now towering into the clouds. “It’s not like anyone really uses their phone to do business, especially in my business.” And up and up goes that summit—as well as the risk of torturing this metaphor. The point is, you are going to miss on a lot of business if you don’t start paying attention to mobile traffic.

Here is a sampling from our own website:

Percentage of Traffic of Mobile and Tablet Devices:

Year Mobile Tablet
2014 9.11% 4.11%
2013 5.81% 2.94%
2012 3.62% 1.63%
2011 3.19% 0.00%
2010 0.02% 0.00%
2009 0.01% 0.00%

It shows the growth of mobile traffic as a percentage of total traffic from 2009 to 2014. I’ve segmented out mobile and tablet because that’s what Google Analytics does and I’m not going to rail against the almighty Google. As it’s clear to see, 2009 was a bad year for mobile traffic. But since then, like sales of iPhones, it’s been on the up and up. See:

Even without a trend line, it’s obvious that there is a positive trend within the line graph. But wait, there is more number fun:

Mobile Growth As Percentage Compared The To Previous Year:

Year Mobile
2014 60.5%
2013 13.5%
2012 172.6%
2011 11600.0%

This table shows how much mobile (I just did phones for this one) grew as compared to the previous year. I’m discounting 2011 because if you look at the first table, the raw data, then you’ll see that 1600% of growth is somewhat misleading. Odds are the jump was simply because traffic grew from say one person to ten in a year. Thus it’s a high percentage but one that doesn’t mean much.

What isn’t misleading is that in 2014, the year we got into the fifth generation of Samsung Galaxy smart phones, saw an impressive 60% growth as compared to 2013. I wonder what’ll happen when we get into our tenth generation?

So, Why is is Important?

It’s important because we have a responsive web design. Our website transforms to fit whatever screen it encounters. Tablet, fablet or iPhone, whatever device accesses the website bends and breaks itself to neatly fit into the screen.

Before phones began to dominate, a browser would have to render a full-sized website on a fixed screen size. Just look at the graph above, before 2011 the percentage of mobile traffic is zero. No small screens, no need to develop a website to fit into them. There’s no one who’d really think that investing in a mobile website would be worth it.

I’ve Just Seen a 60% Growth in Traffic

Imagine that you’ve seen an unprecedented 60% growth. No, actually you’re much more successful–a 100% growth in mobile traffic. Yet these new people are unable to do anything on your website. Also, realize that we’re a lot fussier on a mobile device. At least I am. If a website does not load on my phone I have plenty of other distractions around me to move past it, and I do.

In the near future, like this year, mobile will eclipse traditional internet traffic. Responsive design isn’t just one of those checkboxes that you will need to add into your website just because. It’s not like adding “Share Buttons” on each page. It matters to usability and there’s a very good chance that in the future not having a responsive design will be like having a Geocities webpage or other 1990s web paraphernalia. It’ll be the thing that shows your website is out of date, not worth my time, and could ultimately hurt you. So it might be a nearly identical but slightly taller mountain that if climbed earlier will put you ahead of those who didn’t bother with it at all. Okay, now the tortured metaphor is really over.