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"Forget what we have taken for granted on how consumers use the Internet.  Soon, more users will access the Web using mobile devices than using PCs, and it's going to make the Internet a very different place." (Karsten Weide, IDC)So, your website desperately needs updating and your mobile and tablet presence is weak, disjointed or non-existent.  If this sounds like you, take time to pause for a moment to internalize that website redesigns as you know them are a dying breed.Why?  The explosion of tablet, mobile and touch experiences.  Just consider that well within the useful life of your website redesign, in the period of 2013-15, that:
  • Mobile device internet access will outpace PC access
  • Tablet sales will outpace PC sales
  • Microsoft Windows 8 will be deployed across corporate America, built around a “touch-first” experience
If mobile web access is not yet central to your audience, it almost certainly will be in the next few years.  This rapid ascent calls to question a number of issues that redesigns of the past did not have to confront:
  • Focus:  What perspective should the strategy, user experience and creative be centered around?  Traditionally, without question, the answer has been “desktop-first”.  But what if your audience heavily over-indexes on tablet usage or smartphone usage, such as the 85% of physicians that expect to purchase a tablet in 2012?  If your key audience actually PREFERS to interact with your brand on a mobile device, does it make sense to focus your redesign process around the desktop?
  • Budget and Timing:  Existing budgets for web design projects rely on benchmarks from the old “desktop-first” model.  With the advent of mobile taking on a more central role comes more complexity, more cost and more time.
So what to do?  Maybe now is a good time to explore that sabbatical you’ve been considering?   While that may sound attractive, consider that by the time you reengage, there will be new devices, platforms and technologies that will render this entire discussion obsolete. So, in the absence of a sabbatical, we’ve created a FLUID  (FLexible User Interface Decision-making) FRAMEWORK to help clients tackle these issues in an objective, methodical manner.  Key to the framework is bringing the audience and business to the forefront of the decision-making process.  FLUID guides companies through critical considerations such as:
  • WHO:  What is the profile of your target audience?  What is their specific device usage penetration and preferences?  How is this expected to evolve in the next several years?
  • WHEN/WHERE:  What are the critical Use Cases, Touchpoints and Moments of Truth when your audience needs you?   Where you can add unique value?  What are your users trying to accomplish?  When and where do they have these needs?
  • WHAT:  How much information is required to help your users resolve their needs?  Is your content information-intensive or lightweight?  What content are users currently consuming on your website using various devices?  How constrained are budget and timing considerations?
Depending on the answers to various diagnostics in FLUID, a score is reached that prioritizes different platform investments and alternatives.  The FLUID framework is just that – fluid – and will undoubtedly continue to evolve over time. Website redesign approaches of the past are comfortable, tested and refined.  The problem is, they are fast becoming irrelevant. So, before you start your next web redesign project with a desktop-first mindset, get focused on the new and very relevant realities of a mobile-centric web world. It could save you untold dollars, enable you to leapfrog the competition and make your core audiences very happy.