As I’m writing this, GSMA’s real-time tracker is rocketing towards 8 billion mobile connections. This means that for every human on earth, there’s almost 1.1 mobile phones.
Just as impressive, is smartphone sales compared to traditional laptops and desktops.
In isolation, PC growth is quite impressive up to around 2010 when things started looking a bit gloomy for PCs. It wasn’t a coincidence that at this time, smartphones were becoming less of an early adopter toy and more mass market at this point.
That year saw some huge mobile releases like the first Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire running Android Éclair and the iPhone 4. From there, smartphones went from strength to strength and the rest is history.
Who killed the PC? These guys probably didn't help.
Now, obviously this growth in smartphones has been great for giffgaff, but it’s also been a double-edged sword.
How? Well when giffgaff was a tiny upstart operating out of a small rectory in Beaconsfield, the mobile web was very much in its infancy and we didn't even launch with a mobile-friendly site (somewhat ironically).
Back then, 99.84% of views on giffgaff.com were from laptops and desktops. Viewing the web on a phone (or even a smartphone) was awkward as most pages weren’t designed with mobile access in mind. It was therefore quite niche at the time.
Couple that with a tiny, resource-constrained website team and the plan became clear to make our mobile site. Take the full website, chuck out all the nice bits that only work on desktops and then call it a day.
This made complete sense in early 2010, but then the shift to mobile web use came and we had to have a serious rethink.
Mobile usage on our site has increased rapidly. The pace has been even faster this year, with mobile share growing at the expense of both tablet and desktops, as phablets become more and more mainstream.
giffgaff.com web traffic over time. I sure hope you're enjoying these thrilling line graphs...
So what are we doing about it? Well for the last 3 years or so, we’ve made a concerted effort to make browsing the site on your phone easier. Not only that, but we’ve flipped our development process on its head.
Previously, the design process involved wireframing what the site would look like on PC, then adding the designs to make it look pretty and then adapting this design for mobiles. The issue is that “adapting” for mobile essentially means cutting a lot of the good stuff out. This approach of working backwards to mobile is known as graceful degradation.
These days, we design for mobile first. We now wireframe mobile as a baseline and then grow the design to PC from there.
Progressive enhancementThis is called progressive enhancement and in summary, it means that mobiles get access to all the functionality they need, while PCs are allowed to get those extra sparkles that the extra horsepower and space allow us to use.
It may seem like a small thing, but in the real-world, this flipped design process makes a huge difference.
While we’ve made some great progress over the last few years, we haven’t quite reached the pinnacle of our ambitions for the mobile site just yet.
Making the site an engaging and enjoyable experience on mobile is top of the list for those involved with the site and will be an ongoing project of ours for some time to come. Today, 74% of views to giffgaff.com are from mobiles and that will only continue to increase.
For something that we consider our flagship mobile experience, you should check out the giffgaff app, which is available on Android, Amazon Appstore, iOS and Windows 10.
If you have feedback for the site for mobile, desktop, tablet or whatever device you’re using, drop us a line below or on the Contribute board and we’ll be sure to give it a look.