(Hull Daily Mail (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) OVER the past 18 months, the way in which we consume information online and think about websites has changed, forever.
Mobile internet use was revolutionised when the iPhone was released to critical acclaim in 2007. While not the first device to offer the internet via mobile, it was the first to allow users to surf the internet on a mobile handset effectively.
Since then, virtually all manufacturers have entered the smartphone market, leading to a huge boom in smartphone sales.
The development of touch-screen mobile handsets led to Apple revisiting tablet PCs with the release of the iPad.
Again, Apple did not invent the tablet genre but by simply doing it better, the company captured the market.
Apple has sold 84 million iPads so far this year, and has stolen a march on its competitors.
The number of tablet devices being sold is only going to go up, too, as Google and Amazon have recently released more cost- accessible devices, as well as Apple releasing its own iPad mini. I think I know what Santa's sleigh will be full of this Christmas.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO, says: "We've sold more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire line-up."
Taking into account other suppliers and looking at the market as a whole, it's clear that we're now in the "post-PC era".
Put simply, the web is being consumed by more people on a tablet/ mobile device than on a traditional mouse and keyboard-powered machine. Having said that, I'm willing to bet that most people still assume their website visitors are using a "proper" PC, after all, that's still the mental picture you have of someone using the web. The good news is that websites can now be designed and developed in such a way that the device being used doesn't matter.
"Responsive" web design means that regardless of what device the visitor is using, the site "moulds" to the device.
These modern techniques are OK if you're developing a new site but if you've already got a site, what can you do Firstly, check your web statistics. Don't just check how many visitors are coming to your site, check what they do when they get there, which content is popular and importantly, which device they used.
With our clients' sites, we're seeing a huge increase in visitors from tablets and mobile devices and it's only going to go up even more over the next six to 12 months.
I'd be surprised if you don't see the rise in different devices, however if that's the case, don't write it off and declare yourself immune. Check again in three months and again in six.
If you do see the rise, the first thing to do is check your site on a few different devices.
One of the obvious things to check for is "hover" menus and "rollovers", where something on your website only happens when a mouse cursor is hovered over the object.
You can't hover a finger on a touch device, so you may find key content simply doesn't work.
If you use Flash, check it on an Apple tablet or mobile.
You'll notice it doesn't work, so it may be that an important message you want to deliver to your users is invisible on an Apple device.
You've got a website for a reason - to make the phone ring, reinforce your brand, to receive orders or to get e-mail enquiries.
To get the best out of a key marketing channel for your business, you're going to have to embrace the "post-PC era".
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