Designing for faster and cheaper

I am currently reading The Modern Web, a new book by Peter Gasston, and so far I love it. In it he writes about the different kinds of devices that people use to access the web. In the part about mobile phones he says: within a year or two, who knows how much power they’ll have.

That’s actually more complex question than you might think. In the past it was always the case that computers got faster every year. The price of a computer didn’t change that much, but the speed doubled every six months or so. For a very long time, this was an actual fact. But with phones things are a bit different. For a phone it’s most important that the battery lasts all day. More important than speed. You don’t want to recharge it after every website you visit.

Batteries are improving, chips get more energy efficient, so phones do get faster, just like computers used to do. But there’s another trend: phones get cheaper too. Five years ago, a smart phone might cost you 1000 euros, right now you can buy a new phone with similar specs for 100 euros or less. It could very well be that in a while you can buy phones for 5 euro, why not. This should have a major impact on web design: our websites have to work on the fastest new computers with the fastest possible internet connections. And at the same time they have to work on equally new, cheap smartphones with a flaky 3G connection.

Performance is getting more and more important than it already was. It should really be an integral part of the whole design process.