Smartphones, although relatively new, have made significant impacts on our professional and personal lives. This mobile tool has completely redefined our daily routines, behaviours and personalities. There is a widespread addition to our mobile devices—many can’t even go an hour without checking their smartphone for an e-mail, text, Tweet or Facebook update.

The Addiction
A recent study found that 1 in 4 people check their mobile device every 30 minutes, while 1 in 5 check it every 10 minutes. Twice as many people would pick their phone over their lunch if forced to make the choice and three-quarters of 25-to-29-year-olds actually sleep with their phones.

Smartphones and mobile devices aren’t phenomena anymore—they are ingrained elements of who we are today. There is this unbreakable connection that we have to these devices—whether it is for work or for pleasure—we rely on them to make decisions, educate ourselves and find out about the world around us.

Responding to the Trend
Companies today are beginning to understand the importance of “going mobile” when it comes to website strategy and design. For instance, the responsive website design trend exploded because more and more brands were realizing the benefits an adjustable website had in regards to content, engagement and business objectives. Responsive website design is still fairly new, but it is becoming more of a necessity, regardless of the industry a company operates in.

Mobile First
The new industry adage of “mobile first” reflects how companies are changing how they perceive website design. Traditionally, it was all about the desktop—the static website that achieved what it needed to, without needing to worry about smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Take for instance USA Today, who completely broke the proverbial mold when they redesigned their website to look very close to an iPad app. The company’s president and publisher, Larry Kramer, noted that the idea was to reinvigorate the value of print media while introducing new digital products. This entire redesign took advantage of the iPad app’s addictive and intuitive design and created something that inverted the website development process.

USA Today not only started with thinking “mobile first”, they used the user-experience, design and functionality of the mobile space to inform their entire redesign strategy.

Looking Forward
At a very early stage, we embraced the pervasiveness of mobile use from a brand and marketing perspective. It isn’t enough to think about mobile after the fact. At that point, it’s too late. We as designers and strategists believe that the entire user-experience—from desktop to mobile to tablet—must be thought about and designed around.

The expectations of an audience today are vastly different than a decade ago. Internet browsing and mobile use has completely changed how people consume information, make decisions about products, or connect with a brand. Acknowledging this trend is essential from a website design perspective. In order for a company’s brand to truly connect with their audience, we must create an experience that meets those expectations.