It’s predicted that mobile internet usage will eclipse wired usage by the year 2015. With the rise of connected mobile devices like smartphones and tablets brands are wrestling with the need to make their online presence easy to access for mobile users. A common question heard frequently is “Should I build an app or create a mobile website?”. If referring to your existing website my answer is almost always “mobile website”. Even more specifically, I’m talking about developing a responsive website.
Responsive websites “respond” to the environment they’re being viewed in. Specifically, the size of the device they are being viewed on. We are seeing more and more internet connected mobile devices and platforms developing than most brands have time to accommodate for. On top of that, many brands have put a lot of effort into into developing their web site. Responsive design is the way to go.
The Platform They, and You, Are Already Using
Consider the thought of developing a mobile app. Which platform will you develop for first? Apple’s iOS, Android or Windows mobile? Then which device size are you going to target, tablet or smartphone? One way or another, you have choices to make that means you’re likely going to alienate a portion of your audience.
All of these devices and platforms have web browsers which is all they need to access and view your site. Responsive web design doesn’t care which device your website is being viewed on, only the size it needs to be displayed. No more need to zoom in and out to see all of the page content, a responsive site takes into consideration the viewing area and shuffles things around for the best fit.
Prioritize Content for Mobile Users
Mobile users may have different needs than those who visit your website from a laptop or desktop computer. In many cases the users are looking for information related to your location or other contact details. If you are a restaurant it’s likely they want to easily find and browse your menu items to see if anything appeals to them. All of this content is already on your site, but it may be hard to dig around your current site and access.
Responsive design allows you the opportunity to trim away the fat of your desktop site and give your content more prominence. If you’re using Google analytics you can find a section that tells you how much of your traffic is coming from mobile devices. Look specifically at the pages that those visitors are viewing. What content is on those pages? That content might give you an idea what’s most important to your mobile users. Then you can work to make that content easier to access in your responsive design.
Retain the Brand
There are a handful of other mobile website options out there. Some allow you to add your logo and play with the colors a bit. Others simply mimic a basic mobile app with no visual branding at all. If branding is important to you, and I hope it is, responsive design has you covered. Because your desktop, smartphone and tablet sized sites are all one in the same your visual branding is retained across all versions.
There are some great galleries popping up online that feature responsive sites. My favorite is http://mediaqueri.es/ . Also check out this nifty tool to help you see what your website looks like in various sizes like smartphones and tablets.
Mobile is Inevitable
It wasn’t long ago that everyone was learning how important it was have a website. I’m sure you would agree that it’s essential. Making your website responsive is a fairly new concept, but it will quickly become as essential to your online presence as anything else. This is why we have dedicated the last year to adding responsive web design to our web design process for our clients. Connect with me and I’ll be happy to help you get your website ready for mobile users.
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