Back in February, I wrote a love letter post about An Event Apart. Karen McGrane's presentation "The Mobile Content Mandate" made it quite clear that the mobile revolution is already here. In particular, the iPhone disrupted the marketplace and made it less expensive to access web content. Instead of needing a home computer and an internet provider, all that's needed is a phone with a data plan. With an increasing number of web-aware devices comes the need to test on a wide variety of them. Not only are there more devices out there, but the differences between their screen dimensions are vast.
Some recent statistics
What do 91% of all American adults have in common? According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project1, they're mobile phone users. Sure, "only" 56% are smartphone users1, but that number will rapidly increase as phones sans browser are phased out. Pew also notes that smartphone adoption has increased 21%2 over the last two years, and that 31% of smartphone owners use their phone as their primary device3 for accessing the web.
The evidence is there- more users will be better served by content that's simple to digest across multiple devices. And how do we build websites that make this a reality? We test!
We can't buy them all. So...
The Device Lab (also Open Device Lab or ODL) is a concept first brought to my attention by Jeremy Keith when he spoke with the Charlotte Front-End Developers group. Basically, if you can find a bunch of folks in your community who don't mind donating a device or two to the common good, then everyone will benefit. Jeremy implemented this idea at Clearleft (he even made a video for it).
The most comprehensive list of ODLs that I can find is available at OpenDeviceLab.com. See that gaping hole between Atlanta and D.C.?
UNION is launching a Device Lab! Do you have an old phone in a drawer? Do you have a sibling or child who won't notice if the toothfairy stole her old tablet? Bring it on by and add it to the collection!
You needn't worry about your devices being kept safe and sound. As you can see, our Device Lab Head of Security takes his role very seriously.
And please come visit if you just want to test. To make an appointment and to see the list of devices currently in the stable, head to the Device Lab!
- Brenner, Joanna Pew Internet: Mobile. Pew Internet & American Life Project, Sep 18, 2013, accessed on Oct 28, 2013.
- Smith, Aaron Smartphone Ownership 2013. Pew Internet & American Life Project, June 5, 2013, accessed on Oct 28, 2013.
- Smith, Aaron Cell Internet Use 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project, June 26, 2012, accessed on Oct 28, 2013.