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When Mobile-Friendly Doesn’t Matter

Are there times when mobile-friendly doesn’t matter? Surprising there are, not many but they do exist. Little Fire tells you more.

Caveat: Mobile-Friendly Does Matter …

Before we start, in the vast majority cases, mobile-friendliness does matter. If your site requires interaction with the general public or needs to perform well in Google, your site must be mobile friendly.

… But There are a Few Exceptions

Desktop Applications for Specific Users

We have clients who run large parts of their business using online web applications. While the public-facing pages and interface are hosted on mobile-friendly websites, the staff pages are not mobile.

The team are expected to login on desktop devices. Tabular data is particularly hard to display on a mobile device. The larger screens allow the users to view large quantities of data at once.

It makes more sense to specify the output device and then everyone knows what every screen should look like.

Niche B2B Services

In some industries, especially those catering primarily to business-to-business (B2B) clients, mobile traffic may be limited. Companies that offer highly specialised products or services to a niche audience might find that their clients primarily access their website from desktop computers.

In such cases, investing heavily in mobile optimisation may not provide a significant return on investment.

Admin Pages

Mobile optimised design is more difficult (therefore expensive) to implement. Administrator’s pages are often busy, complicated things. When budgets are limited, it often makes sense to update the public pages and make them mobile friendly. The administrators will typically be working at a desk anyway so updating those pages for mobile is less urgent.

Client Portals

Lots of services offer a suite of pages for logged-in users where they can manage their accounts. These are commonly referred to as ‘portals’. Portals are not available for indexing by search engine bots (or they shouldn’t be). If the interface is very complicated, it may just work better on a large screen.

We use portals of this type and we host one or two.

Nonetheless, your clients may well try to manage their account with you on the sofa of an evening on their iPad. It may not be your highest priority, but you should consider adapting your pages at some point.

Web Applications for Desktops

Web-applications like Flutter, Word, Excel and the like can be used on a mobile device but it is painful. Where real complex interaction is required or the functions of a desktop application emulated, it just makes sense to use a big screen.

Target Audience Preferences

Understanding your target audience is crucial. If your audience predominantly prefers desktop or laptop computers for browsing, research, or shopping, then a mobile-friendly website may not be a top priority. It’s important to align your web development efforts with your audience’s behaviour and preferences.

Castle Owen web design
As of October 2023, 84% of Castle Owen’s users visited the site on a desktop device.

Websites that offer highly specialised content or services, which may be better suited for larger screens, may not benefit significantly from mobile optimisation. For example, complex data analysis tools, architectural design practices, or in-depth academic resources may be better experienced on desktops.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the target users may not be interested in mobile display, Google remains so. If you want your users to find you on Google (regardless of their preferred screen size), you’ll still need a solid mobile-friendly offering.

In Conclusion

While mobile-friendliness is essential for most websites in today’s digital landscape, there are situations where it may not be the top priority. Nonetheless, these instances are getting rarer. As the pandemic drove more people to work from home, people got more used to touch-screen devices even in a work environment.

These days, we would never start a new project without a responsive display framework. Responsive design is much easier to build into a project at the outset than cranking it in later.

But it’s crucial for businesses and organisations to assess their specific circumstances, audience behaviour, and budget constraints to determine whether mobile optimisation is necessary. In some cases, focusing on a well-designed desktop website or other marketing strategies may be a more effective use of resources.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on what best serves the needs and goals of the business or organisation.