Now that smartphones have taken a solid foothold in our web browsing habits, I’ve been surprised at the number of clients who don’t seem worried about making their sites compatible for these devices.
For all new projects I take on, part of the planning process involves looking at how the site and content adapt when viewed on various devices such as the ubiquitous iPhone. “Responsive web design”, as it’s called, does involve some extra work to the project because it takes more time to plan, code and test - it may only be a day’s worth of my time yet few site owners realise the benefits and opt not to cater for mobile because of the (relatively) small extra cost.
With mobile web browsing rising sharply it’s something that few site owners can ignore, especially businesses.
The cost of not going mobile
Unless they’ve been adapted already, most web sites aren’t much fun to use on a mobile phone. Yes you can get around and use most of them, but endless zooming in and out, small text, little support for Flash, and poor usability eventually make it a very tedious task - is that the sort of experience you want to give your customers? The chances are if your customers have a not so good experience they will go elsewhere - probably your competitors!
What about existing sites?
Firstly I should say that there’s most likely nothing wrong with your existing site so don’t panic, it was probably built in a time when mobile web browsing wasn’t common! Technology has a habit of changing very quickly and it’s only recently that mobile web browsing has taken off big time, but you should be thinking about it, and making some plans to make your site mobile friendly - maybe with an upcoming web site revamp or rebuild.
Mobile only sites
One option is to have a second “mobile only” web site that runs in tandem with your main site - the idea here is a clever bit of technology that detects if a visitor is using a mobile phone, if detected the visitor sees the mobile version, if not they simply see the normal version.
This method may be viable if you need to present different or cut down content to mobile users.
One size fits all is preferable
The ideal situation would be to have the one site that adapts to the device it’s being viewed on, whether that’s a phone with a small screen or humungous 27” monitor - that’s what “Responsive web design” is all about, now and for the future. Some existing sites are quite straightforward to adapt (eg blog/article sites), but others, such as web shops or sites with a complex layout, can require a revamp to bring them up to date.
The mobile age is here, you can’t ignore it!
Footnote: Yes I know *this* site isn’t responsive, but it will be soon!
by Rob Allen | Filed in Web Design