With an increasingly wide range of devices on the market, there’s an ever-growing number of ways to use online products and services. Not just in terms of the specifics of the devices themselves, but also the times, places and social contexts of that interaction. For those of us working in the digital space, the mental image of a user trawling around on the desktop machine in their spare room already seems out-dated, but going forward we’ll all need to evolve our disciplines away from thinking about specific devices.

The “mobile” user, for example, implies a lot; too much to be useful. Just because someone’s using an iPad doesn’t mean they’re on the sofa at home, and just because someone’s got a Kindle doesn’t mean they’ll only pick it up to read books. Many high-street retailers have been slow to react to the upsurge of mobile web and email usage and, now that there are numbers to suggest consumers turn their backs on those retailers’ they can’t easily use from their phone, we’ll likely see this change. But it’d be a mistake for them to think of mobile as a channel, or they’ll just get caught out again in the future.

Instead, it’s important we realise that there’s no such thing as a “mobile” user, or a “desktop” user, or even really a mobile or desktop site anymore. The users have been empowered to do whatever they like, when and wherever they like, and the onus is on those of us who produce or market products and services to follow the users’ journey rather than just scattering trails of breadcrumbs so they can follow us. Yes, sites and services should be easy to use, but we can no longer afford to make device-specific assumptions about how they are to be consumed.