After some chats, research and real-world experience of people's habits in 2014, it's become more and more evident that not having a website that supports mobile device screens in at least some basic manner is essential.
Reports such as this:
"John Lewis made a bold prediction pre-Christmas that it would see its share of mobile traffic exceed desktop for the first time on Christmas Day and they subsequently reported that these expectations were exceeded, with two thirds of traffic originating from a mobile device...."
"....Strong mobile performance has continued into the New Year. On New Year’s Day, 39.05% of traffic originated from a mobile device coupled with 32.81% of sales.
While there hasn’t been an individual day that has outperformed Christmas Day/Boxing day, the share of mobile traffic in January is set to outstrip December’s performance."
It's important to emphasize the last part - mobile device search traffic is only going to get bigger and bigger.
Mobile Device definition
Which also leads us to the question of what is regarded as a mobile device. The obvious contenders are all smartphones. What is also included is tablets - iPads, Android, Kindle Fires, etc. These are all devices, mostly with screens no larger than about 10 inches diagonal - i.e. if you have links or icons/images that are small and hard to tap, you're leaving yourself at a disadvantage. Open up your own site across three devices - smartphone, tablet and laptop/desktop computer - do site visitors get the same experience across all? And by 'same experience', even if they have a reduced range of choices on the smaller screens, the ease of use is still the same?
Solutions such as responsive design are a viable solution - a great example of how it works is the Irish Times website, open on a computer screen, then resize as you please and watch as it re-formats the whole website to the width of the screen. The primary benefit is only one website to manage, not just one for small screens and one for large ones. Of cours, it's important to emphasise that it is not always the right solution however finding something that ensures good usability across a range of devices should always be considered.