One question we frequently get asked is, “Can you build me a mobile version of the website?” The answer is yes, we can build a separate mobile site, but why?
With a traditional mobile site you build out a scaled-back experience with limited content designed for the smallest common smartphone, usually an iPhone or an older Android phone. The result is a different user experience, especially when a consumer tries to explore it on a larger phone or tablet.
The alternative is responsive design. With responsive design you can build a site that works equally well for any size screen or device type. Using HTML5, your site adjusts automatically to the display. You can change text, navigation, images and even controls to respond to the device. In the end, you can create and manage one site that is always optimized.
I’ve seen responsive design in practice now for a couple of years, but major brands are really just beginning to pay attention to it. This gives us the ability (and mobility, if you will) to educate our clients on how to create a more robust mobile presence for their brand. I’ve found that The Boston Globe is a terrific example of responsive design.
When you visit the site, drag your browser and change the size of the browser windows. It’s still in beta, but watch how the site changes and optimizes for different browser types (full desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.). The integrity of the design is retained no matter what browser or device is used.
Here are the benefits of responsive design:
- Optimal experiences across all sizes of browsers
- A content-rich site without complex transactions
- A user-friendly brand experience for both desktop and mobile users
Responsive design pages and sites often take a little bit more time to build than your static page. As you design the pages, give thought to the use case on each device and the best design for that size screen. Putting it together, then, requires some competency with CSS3.
I encourage you to check out these other examples of responsive design:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on responsive design. Do you have experience working with it? What challenges have you found working with mobile designs and websites?