You Need a Mobile Friendly Website. You Do.

As you know, the number of people who access the Internet from a mobile device grows daily. For business owners, it’s becoming crucial to your survival to be accessible from anywhere, on any device. By now you should at least be considering bringing your website to the mobile masses. But, what are your options? Let’s take a look and see if building a dedicated mobile site or a responsive one is the best choice for you.

Dedicated Mobile

A dedicated mobile website is a site that is specifically made for mobile users and employs device detection to route them to a separate, distinct website. It’s a totally different and separate experience from visiting a site on a desktop computer. A dedicated mobile site can be condensed and tailor made for the mobile web experience, which can be both advantageous and detrimental, but we’ll get to that in a moment. For now, if you’d like an example of a dedicated mobile site, visit that of Presidential candidate Romney.

Responsive Design

Responsive design means that a site shares the same code base as the desktop version. It lives under the same roof as the website and bends itself to fit the type of device a user is viewing the site from. There is no difference in the content of the mobile versus the desktop site because they are one in the same.  Check out President Obama’s site for an example of responsive design.  Move your browser window bigger and smaller to see how you can smoosh the site around to fit different screen sizes.

Dedicated Mobile vs. Responsive Design

Sites made specifically for the mobile web are generally lighter versions of a desktop site. This means that users only get to see a subset of content and functionality. The trouble is that many folks use a mobile device as their primary way to access the Internet. With so many people using a mobile device, it seems like many are missing the full user experience when they visit a dedicated mobile site.

This can be great since, as we’ll see in a moment, responsive sites can sometimes overwhelm a mobile device. Dedicated mobile sites can be pared down to improve functionality and navigation. This can also be a detriment since many users want the full experience and not a condensed one. And with an abundance of people accessing from mobile, well, you see the problem, GLAD WORKS friends.

Also an issue with a separate mobile site is URL management. Since desktop and mobile content exist under different URLs, device detection is needed to route users to the appropriate sites. This presents issues when, for example, a mobile user posts a link to a mobile site in the social space and a desktop user tries to access it.

Things don’t go so well…

It’s probably happened to you at some point.

Clearly, having all content live under the same URL, as with responsive design, makes it easier for visitors to use and share the site’s content. Trouble can sometimes arise when it comes to navigation on a responsive site. There’s a lot of content there, and it can make for a frustrating user experience when navigation and scrolling become challenging and loading times increase.

A dedicated mobile site is relatively simple to navigate and has a smaller page length than a responsive one. Users don’t have to work very hard to find what they’re looking for on a dedicated mobile site, as long as that’s just some basic stuff. In contrast, a responsive site has a massive amount of content, which is great, but it can cause the site to crash on some mobile devices. It also takes forever to load.

The world of web design is engaged in its own debate about which mobile strategy is best. The way we see it, it all comes down to what you need your mobile site to do. If you feel that your visitors prefer to have the full experience of your site, then responsive is the way to go. If performing a few basic operations is enough, then a dedicated mobile site may be your answer.

If you’re feeling torn and a little confused, don’t worry GLAD WORKS friends. You just give us a call and we’ll help you decide!

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