My wife works in a library. She loves books, she loves seeing people become more literate, she loves people bettering themselves. Those are huge passions inside her.
The library she works in is at the center of a shelter, a bus depot, a McDonalds and two schools. Naturally, there’s a rich dichotomy of patrons who find themselves in the stacks each day. People tend to just float in and out of there. There’s a large number of homeless people flop on the chairs next to the magazines, all the possessions they have along with them. Kids just getting out of school to meet up and exchange gossip, plans & occasionally eye contact. People riding the bus come and sit for a few minutes to maybe escape the weather or use the bathroom before their bus arrives.
Each of these people bring something to the rhythm of each day at the library. Usually there’s a disruption, a loud noisy conversation, an odd demand, sometimes physical violence. All of this coming from these patrons that are (for a lack of a better word) interesting. My wife brings home a lot of stories from the library and a few of them make me think.
She told me once, while overseeing the computers, a high school student asked her how to change his Facebook profile pic. He said he only knew how to do it in the iOS app and that the desktop site was confusing.
This stuck with me. A high schooler not knowing how to change his default on Facebook? That sounds almost as likely as a real princess in Nigeria being rescued.
But it stuck with me for a few days. So I did some research.
- 31% of mobile internet users say that’s their primary way of accessing the web.
- 50% of teenage smartphone owners say they primarily use that device to access the web.
- 40% of low-income smartphone owners say the same thing.
- 17% of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone versus a desktop.
- 64% of primary smartphone users list that it’s always available.
It’s obvious mobile is priority and if these statistics are any indication, that’s the place we need to keep spending our time and energy. I can’t image a world where mobile devices are going to be less relevant to developing websites and apps.
I’m personally hoping this begins a more dramatic shift in internet users. There isn’t really a day that goes by where I don’t hear about some elderly person getting a tablet and that being their first and only way to access the web. More of the work I do personally makes me want to detach from the development environments on my iMac and MacBook and most of my browsing and reading happens on an iOS device. I keep seeing children connect with touch interfaces seamlessly. Schools are adopting tablets in the classroom everyday. I see homeless people walking around with smartphones. Most designers & developers adopt a “mobile first” approach by default.
And this is just the start.