State of the Mobile Web

Opera's definitive analysis of the key trends affecting the mobile web

March 2013

7 tips for mobile-proofing your website

Mobile web use is booming - this month, Opera Software reached 249 million users across its mobile browsers - but are websites really prepared for the influx of users with small screens? There is a wide variety of mobile devices on the market, and more people are eager to make the most of their web-capable mobile devices.

In this State of the Mobile Web report, we take a closer look at seven must-do tips when making mobile-ready websites. When planning and designing websites that display well with both mobile and desktop screens, there's more to think about than just the sizes and resolutions of devices.

At Opera Software, our lead web designer Matt Cox (@coxy) has redesigned websites not only to fit various screens, but also to respect the different approaches website users have when switching between devices.

First rule, make it responsive

“If you're not designing a responsive site, you're designing wrong,” says Cox. Responsive design means adapting to the screen or window size of the user's browser, as well as changing the layout on the fly, without sacrificing the fidelity of the desktop website. “Where possible, mobile sites should be responsive to give the user the as-much-of-the-same experience on a mobile device as they have on a desktop computer.” Cox cites one such example in the GOV.UK website (http://www.gov.uk), where the front page looks good on both mobile devices and on the desktop computer.

A screenshot of GOV.UK

A screenshot of GOV.UK

Keep mobile in mind

“Whilst I applaud the 'mobile first' method, embracing it can have as many pitfalls as it does benefits,” says Cox. Planning and designing websites with focus on one particular usage may restrict some website designers into a given set of thinking.

“Take the 'mobile in mind' method, where you can design for the largest, desktop resolution first, but constantly keep mobile in mind and ensure that every design decision factors in how what you're doing would appear and function on a mobile device. As a working process, it's sometimes far easier to scale down artwork than it is to scale it up.”

Develop an understanding

While we cannot all be programmers and designers with deep understanding of how to do every aspect of website development, a little knowledge can go far. As a manager or executive looking at the web design process from afar, do read up on the various technologies and what they can and cannot do, suggests Cox: “Work to understand the needs, requirements and restrictions of a developer.”

Different devices, different approaches

Moving on to the nitty-gritty details of web design, going from having a desktop-ready site to a mobile-ready site means having to make a few adjustments to the functionality. Mobile devices present different challenges for website designers. One such challenge are smartphones. “With the increasing amount of smartphones in the hands of the public, people are more aware of 'app-like' mobile interaction, allowing you to follow through such methods of navigation and interaction on your site,” says Cox. “Think carefully, as you work through the design process, of what would function more effectively as a swipe gesture, etc.”

Focus on clarity

Less is more, and even more so on a mobile device. “Make pages clutter-free, with a clear focus. Work to avoiding cases of accidental clicking by a user. What's more, keeping file size and load times down is always a good idea for a mobile site,” says Cox. “Use CSS3 technologies where possible. They give web developers and designers flexible tools to make elegant and user-friendly websites that can be used across different devices easily.

Free your mind

There's a lot you can do, even on a smaller-sized device. “Don't feel restricted in your possibilities. Some projects will require something new, different and unseen on a mobile device. Think fresh - don't let the restrictions of a small screen stifle your creativity,” advises Cox, regarding the importance of thinking creatively about mobile devices.

Test your work

The final point of advice about web design is one that too many seem to take lightly. “Before you throw it live on the web, test it. Then, reiterate if things don't work for you,” advises Cox to those seeking to make sites work perfectly for their users, regardless of the device they choose.

For more information on creating mobile sites, see
Mobile-friendly: The mobile web optimization guide.

Growth

In March 2013, the consumer base of the Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers increased in unique users. In all, more than 249 million people used Opera Mini or Opera Mobile last month. The Opera Mini servers (which do not process pages from Opera Mobile browsers) served more than 171 billion pages and compressed over 13 petabytes of data for Opera Mini users. 33% of the total users of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile are using smartphones to browse the web. Compared to March 2012, the total number of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile users grew more than 29% year over year.

Number of mobile product users

In March 2013, over 249 million people used Opera Mini and Opera Mobile. More than 22 million were Opera Mobile users, and the rest were Opera Mini users. Compared to March 2012, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile combined grew more than 29% year over year.

MonthOpera MiniTotal users
March 2013225,458,860249,039,846
February 2013207,205,488228,460,086
January 2013215,229,494237,253,630
December 2012207,782,057229,231,788
November 2012195,466,306215,860,590
October 2012194,028,420215,404,124
September 2012187,528,635207,194,837
August 2012190,999,377209,908,472
July 2012187,147,324205,770,416
June 2012182,464,716200,350,248
May 2012178,525,801196,186,735
April 2012165,516,827189,631,504
March 2012168,844,460193,009,533
February 2012160,016,472183,714,665
January 2012159,033,038182,787,117
December 2011152,651,224175,940,168
November 2011144,601,830166,574,676
October 2011140,001,098161,863,689
September 2011131,319,238153,031,280
August 2011128,004,536149,726,810
July 2011121,789,463143,247,132
June 2011115,058,129136,220,211
May 2011113,511,756134,760,861
April 2011107,159,911128,275,809

Opera Mini pages transcoded

Opera Mini users viewed over 171 billion pages in March 2013. Since March 2012, page views have increased by more than 46%.

MonthPage views
March 2013171,478,830,832
February 2013147,129,524,570
January 2013157,322,672,762
December 2012143,737,439,846
November 2012130,919,408,010
October 2012126,783,439,403
September 2012116,255,078,302
August 2012122,366,916,411
July 2012116,520,625,707
June 2012115,070,847,433
May 2012113,788,248,994
April 2012109,172,778,122
March 2012117,133,940,573
February 2012108,322,127,981
January 2012108,711,984,250
December 2011103,156,318,112
November 2011 88,516,536,629
October 2011 86,241,891,002
September 2011 79,164,254,190
August 2011 79,594,255,478
July 2011 74,078,891,600
June 2011 67,303,912,324
May 2011 63,386,735,162
April 2011 57,935,683,078
March 2011 59,768,735,532

Opera Mini data consumed

In March 2013, Opera Mini users generated over 3.1 billion MB of data for operators worldwide. Data in the Opera Mini browser is compressed by up to 90%. If this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed over 13 petabytes of data in March. Since March 2012, data traffic has risen by 64%.

MonthData transfer (MB)
March 20133,148,879,987
February 20132,710,611,823
January 20132,914,441,676
December 20122,776,891,471
November 20122,446,573,554
October 20122,406,128,070
September 20122,216,054,026
August 20122,215,469,446
July 20122,109,653,045
June 20122,015,528,597
May 20121,983,411,220
April 20121,906,598,921
March 20121,918,118,366
February 20121,916,961,696
January 20121,831,047,506
December 20111,663,600,099
November 20111,421,897,839
October 20111,360,336,480
September 20111,251,149,418
August 20111,232,303,979
July 20111,170,603,288
June 20111,068,360,258
May 20111,031,183,476
April 2011 954,840,197
March 2011 946,210,968

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Contact

For more information about the State of the Mobile Web report, please contact Pål Unanue-Zahl palu[at]opera.com, +47 2369 2400.

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