It is expected that in 2014 mobile internet usage will exceed PC web browser usage for the first time. This should come as no surprise, considering every time you walk outside you can see people with their eyes glued to the mobile phones. That is, if you can take your own eyes off of your mobile device. And while this transformation from web to mobile continues to take place, businesses and websites need to consider how this shift may be affecting their own website. After all, if people are having a hard time viewing a website from their mobile device, they may lose interest in checking out the website all together. Luckily, these sites have the option to integrate either a mobile version of their website or implement a responsive web design. Both options offer their own benefits and limitations, which will be discussed further in the rest of this content.
Before going into the advantages and disadvantages of mobile and responsive websites, it’s important to have a strong foundation and understanding of what each brings to the table for a website.
A mobile website is one that is completely different than its actual desktop version. This site needs to be created in addition to a desktop site and runs on an entirely different platform. In some cases, this is great. A mobile site typically gets rid of a lot of the less valuable parts of a website, making it easier for the user to navigate through the site without being bogged down by content that requires a lot of bandwidth to transfer. Mobile sites are also quite easy when it comes to the user finding important information on the site. This is often because a site will highlight the most useful information on the front page of the mobile site, so that a user doesn’t have to go digging through it. While it may sound like a mobile website offers a lot of great features, there are still some downsides to consider as well. Those will be addressed here shortly. A responsive website is most commonly considered to be the better alternative to a mobile website. Instead of a company creating an entirely new site, like that for mobile, a responsive website is the same format as the actual web browser. The main difference is that it is designed and able to adjust, or respond, correctly in order to fit on a users smartphone screen. As a user zooms in or out of a screen, they will notice the web page adjusting to the content they are looking at, without things getting scrambled up and confusing on their screen. Most often, responsive websites offer the exact same content as the web browser, only in a way that is more accommodating to mobile devices.
The fact that more and more users are relying on their smartphones means that, whether they like it or not, businesses and websites will need to accommodate for mobile or responsive web design. If not, then they will get passed up by other sites that are willing to make the shift, as customers will most certainly find websites that are more satisfying with their mobile devices. But that’s not to say that there aren’t concerns to have.
Because there has been such an explosion in companies and websites wanting to have a mobile site built, this makes the opportunity for a lot of cheap mobile website design companies to start sprouting up all over the place. Anyone who has the knowledge of web development or how to build a mobile website sees that there is great financial potential in providing their resources. However, this is tricky and dangerous for the businesses looking to switch to a mobile device design, because there is no assuring the professional quality that will come with a new mobile website. The problem with this becomes that once your website has a mobile URL setup, every time a user tries to access it from their mobile device, there is no avoiding getting that mobile website. And if it is a poorly done job or looks unprofessional, the website company is at risk of presenting a poor image upon their customers. While a company may pitch a cheap price to start development on your mobile site, you can rest assured that the price will cost you more money in the long run. Responsive web design is typically much less risky. In fact, this particular type of web design just requires a few tweaks to a current website, which will then allow viewers to see the exact same type of website, just at a different ratio than what is on their web. It is still important to be diligent when selecting a development company to help you transition to a responsive website, but the potential negative implications are much less than with mobile sites.
If you are looking to get traffic to your site, you’ve likely heard of SEO. If you haven’t, the simplified version is that SEO refers to where your website URL is ranked on search engines like Google or Yahoo. Companies want to assure that they find their URL on the top page of SEO results, and preferably within the first three links listed. If not, many people will not waste their time scrolling through multiple different listings to find what they want. Where this becomes an issue with mobile websites is that companies will need to consider that mobile SEO and web browser SEO are two different systems. Therefore, a company that puts all of its effort into building its web browser SEO may be quite disappointed and frustrated when they realise they also have to boost their mobile SEO traffic as well. Not only does this take time, but it also is going to require you to put money and effort into building a the reputation behind your mobile site. The good news for responsive web design is that it runs off the same SEO results as your regular web browser version. Because you are using the same website, only with different specifications for a mobile device, the search results are all going to be the same. So whether people are searching for your site on their computers or on their mobile devices, responsive web design on your site allows for the same results to be shown every time.
Another factor to consider for your decision on whether to implement a mobile website design or a responsive web design is how long each will be effective and last. Again, each platform varies from the other. Keep in mind that the transition to mobile devices is quite new. Therefore, many mobile websites have only been created in the last few years and they are still changing and transitioning on a regular basis. These continual changes, as well as the foundation that they are built on, require the ability to update and edit frequently. This means that websites and companies will need to have a web developer who can help them continually change as the technology does, which can be quite counterproductive. Furthermore, mobile websites also have to take into account that there are a variety of different mobile phone screen sizes. This means that the way a site looks on one phone is not the same as how it will not look the same on another. And because electronic companies are always releasing new phones every year or so, these mobile websites have to continually change to adapt to the screen dimensions and specifications. It’s not impossible to do, but it certainly is much more difficult. As for responsive websites, they don’t have nearly the same amount of issues. Again, because all a responsive website does is increase and decrease with the dimensions it is given, it is much easier when it comes to adjusting to screen sizes of different ratios on phones. Furthermore, the foundation of responsive web design is built on the existing formulas of web browser design, making it easier to change if that is necessary.
The fact that you have options for what you want to do with your mobile site is always going to work in your favor. After all, nobody wants to be stuck with only one choice. And with mobile and responsive website design, you can make the decision that is best for your website. Keep in mind that while mobile website design can run faster and is often built to be extremely user friendly on mobile devices, it does come with its fair share of issues as well. Not only do you have to worry about running into a low quality cheap solution, but technology is always advancing and making it difficult to implement the same guidelines for all mobile devices. With all of that in mind, it is imperative that companies make their websites responsive to mobile platforms. The growth of mobile browsing has exploded in previous years and it looks like there may be no slowing it down. And it’s likely that the successful companies will be those that can keep up.