Growth of devices creating web design complexities: Akamai

Web acceleration company finds wide variety of mobile products is making Web design difficult

The growth of Internet enabled devices has created complexities in presenting online content, according to Akamai Technologies web experience vice president, Ravi Maira.

In the past when people only used Web browsers, Maira said that Web developer would know the approximate screen size to present content, and that interaction was limited to keyboard and mouse.

“A developer knew that everyone was going to interact in a specific way when the content was designed,” he said.

However, now that people are coming to websites from different devices, Maira said that experience does not automatically translate.

“New features in devices, such as touch controls, add complexity to the presentation of the information to users,” he said.

With smartphones popular at the moment, one of the industry discussions has been whether a web designer should build an app or a mobile version of the website.

“With mobile web site, there is the question of whether you build a smartphone or tablet version of your site, or do you build a responsive design,” Maira said.

The push towards a responsive design is a trend that Maira is keeping an eye on in particular.

“There is almost no one that I speak to that isn’t trying to explore responsive design capability for mobile web sites,” he said.

“There is so much variety in devices and it is getting bigger, that the idea of building a purpose built application or web site is getting tougher.”

Better performance

With a growing number of desktop and mobile users accessing online content, Maira said that performance is another area creating complexity for web site operators.

“It is one thing to try to optimise performance when you always know the user’s on a PC and a browser,” he said.

“Besides the network layer and the caching, you can optimise what this browser is good at in a desktop environment.”

However, with all the different mobile browsers that are out there, Maira said it is difficult to optimise performance in this way.

“It is also getting increasingly complicated in designing your site in a way that is both functional and fast on all of these devices,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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