Mobile-websitesHaving just completed mobile optimised websites for 2 of our clients, it seems a timely opportunity to review the latest thinking around the subject.

We covered the differences between “adaptive web design” and “responsive web design” in our article of the 24th January 2014. For those of you who missed this article, here are the basics put as simply as possible:

Adaptive web design uses the server to detect the device being used (eg. mobile, Tablet, Desktop) and serves the content in a layout specifically designed for that device; for example, you may get a different design for each device. A large image that is not needed on a mobile phone may be removed completely when the website is viewed on a mobile phone.

Responsive web design uses the browser to automatically rearrange content on the website. If you were to reduce your browser window making the width smaller, the content will move to fit the new window size. The design remains the same for all devices.

To muddy the waters even more, there is now a third method being discussed – RESS. This method uses the Adaptive web design method under a different name. However, some would argue it uses a combination of Adaptive and Responsive web design. For example; the home page could be adaptive while the rest of the pages are responsive.

We can advise you on the best method for your website and carry out research to find out what devices your website visitors are using.

Mark Langston

24th January 2014
Mobile_phone_websitesWe are frequently asked about making websites suitable for viewing on mobile and tablet devices.

Whilst it is true that more and more people are using different devices during the day to access information, before answering “yes, we can do that”, there are a few questions that need to be asked of the site owner.

Not all developers will ask these questions and some are jumping on the gravy train and offering to convert websites that don’t need or justify a mobile presence.  Worse still, they convert them badly, which can be detrimental to the brand and user experience.

Things to consider:
  • Why do you think your website needs to be accessible on a mobile device?
  • Do your website statistics show that a lot of users are viewing your site on mobile or tablet devices?
  • If they are, what pages are they looking at and responding to?
  • Is it viable to display or explain your services or products on a small screen?
  • Think about your target audience; would they search for your products or services on a mobile device?
How to achieve the most effective mobile web design

Some of the answers to these questions can be found by analysing your website statistics via Google Analytics. You can find out where users have come from, the pages they visit and what device they are using. The next step is to identify the information users are most interested in and how they navigate around your site. Only then can we prioritise the information to be shown on your mobile landing page.

For example, the research may tell us that mobile users are viewing your services before making an enquiry. Making it easy for them to navigate to your services pages quickly and adding a phone number or short enquiry form will help them to make contact with you.

The next decision is which method of implementation to choose. There are a number of ways and the choice will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve.

The two most used ways are:

Adaptive web design
This method is server-side (the server where the website is hosted) and means that the server identifies the attributes of the device being used and delivers a version of the site that is suitable for that device. This requires the development of new website pages that are specifically designed for the device being used. This route is the more expensive option but delivers well designed, targeted, fast loading content, designed specifically for the device being used.

Responsive web design
Instead of the server delivering the information to the browser, this method uses the browser to re- size the layout of the website when viewed on a smaller device. This has limitations and relies on the existing page layout to deliver the on-page information, which may not necessarily be in the best order of priority for the user to find what they need.

Layout changes to landing pages may be needed to alter the priority of information based on the research mentioned above. We believe that server-side work is also necessary to reduce image file sizes to ensure the site loads quickly on a mobile phone. Slow loading of websites is one of the major frustrations for users when trying to access websites on their mobile phones.

Summary
As more users access the internet via their mobile phones and tablets, site owners will have to assess the needs of their customers and adapt their websites to meet mobile demand.  Only the most useable, correctly adapted websites will win. If implementation is not done properly you could end up doing more harm than good.

Mark Langston

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