The right approach for mobile web

Everyone is banging on about mobile websites these days.

Your response to this (I’m about to put you into a very square, tidy pigeon hole… address all complaints to studio@hexagonwebworks.com), probably falls into one of three categories.

Either:

  1. you’ve already got it sorted (good on you!)
  2. you know it’s something you need to think about but keep putting off
  3. you are stubbornly refusing to even think about it

This article is for people in pigeon hole number 2 (everyone else may leave now).

So – this mobile website thing… what’s the best way to go about it?  First off, let me say that there are a couple of main ways to approach mobile web design.  Think of them like this:

  1. Create an entirely separate website for people who are using a mobile
  2. Modify/build your website so that it adapts to suit the device (mobile, desktop or other) that it is being viewed on.  This is called ‘Responsive Design’.

When commissioning a mobile website, ask the person you’re dealing with which of these two they will be providing.

There’s no right or wrong answer.  But…

(she says, meaning that in other words, there kind of IS a right & wrong…)

Unless you’re a very big company and/or want to build a mobile website with a very specific purpose (e.g. for event signup, ticket sales, etc etc), the answer is normally that a responsive designed site is the best way to go.

Why?

Lots of reasons.  Here are my favourite four (or at least the four that came to my mind first, writing this in what may be termed ‘a bit of a hurry’):

  • Responsive design means that your branding is consistent whichever device your website is viewed on.  This is different from many ‘off-the-shelf’ mobile website solutions, where you only have the opportunity to upload a logo, change text colours, etc.
  • All your content is visible to all users, and the experience is consistent with your main website.  You’re not falling prey to the sweeping assumption that people looking at your website on a mobile only want to see your opening hours, contact details and a few other basic bits of information.  (Yes, standalone mobile websites can give a link back to the ‘main’ website… but then the user has the same old nightmare scrolling & zooming trying to find the piece of content they’re after).
  • You only have to update one website.  Knowing from years of experience how difficult it is sometimes to coerce clients into keeping one website maintained, interesting pictures come to mind when imagining when that one turns into two… and two that have to be kept in sync and consistent.

Questions?  Confused?  Give me a call – 01235 834556.

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