With mobile websites, businesses have significantly less space to display information than on desktop or laptop devices. This means that developers must be conscientious of the viewer when deciding on a mobile presence. There are a number of options for developers to choose from when creating a mobile presence. Each of these options has different strengths and weaknesses, but in this article I will argue that responsive design is the most user-friendly and cost-effective method.
Mobile Platforms: Responsive Design, Applications, or Mobile Sites?
The three most common general methods for creating a mobile presence are: applications, a separate domain for an exclusively mobile site, or responsive design.
Creating a mobile app for your business can increase user involvement and personalization. However, apps are not as easily accessible as web pages – users have to download it from the app store, and then open the app separately from their regular browser to access your information. Creating mobile apps requires an entirely different skill set than creating web pages, so the cost of creation and maintenance can be high. Also, different mobile devices use different operating systems, so the creation of multiple app versions may incur additional costs.
Using a separate mobile site for your business makes it simple to completely customize the viewing experience for mobile users. Unfortunately, this usually requires developers to create a new domain exclusively for mobile use. This new domain can hurt organic traffic. In addition, mobile versions often require updating with the release of new mobile devices, creating more maintenance costs.
Responsive design essentially makes the device viewing your website do the work in adjusting your layout and content to fit the screen. This design is versatile and easier to maintain than the alternatives. With responsive design, you keep your own domain, so organic search traffic is unchanged and you avoid redirects which can create issues on the user’s side. This design also takes into account the potential for changes in mobile devices so little maintenance is necessary in the future.
For more information on deciding which option might work best for your business, take a look at this comparison of mobile sites and responsive design.
Using Responsive Design to Improve the Mobile Experience
Typically, potential mobile customers are looking for function over form. Mobile users are looking for important information rather than displays of your mobile programming prowess. Rather than including fancy visuals that you include in your desktop presence, make sure that your mobile presence includes your business’s details like phone number, location, hours, product details, and prices.
For example, mobile users looking for restaurants are most likely looking for a place to eat on-the-go, so restaurants might be more successful bringing in customers with a website that includes address, hours, menu items and prices.
You can use responsive design to make sure that these important pieces of information are what viewers see first when they visit your website on a mobile device, while using the same website. Making sure that mobile viewers can easily find what they’re looking for can mean more business.