The web design world is starting to revert. When I first started designing websites over 8 years ago, we were making extremely skinny websites. The reason being that we needed the website to fit within the width of the monitor size which back then was much smaller than it is today. With new iMacs and other desktop monitors getting larger and larger, the web design world was able to let their pants out a bit and make their websites wider. However, the web is now shrinking again – but it’s not just getting skinny again.
The rise of mobile devices in our world is having a huge impact on web designers. We now have to consider what a website will look like on a small, handheld screen. If you get enough traffic from mobile devices, then you need to make a mobile version of your website so visitors can easily get the info they need.
When it comes to allowing a user to connect to your business through a mobile device, we have 3 options:
Make an app. Ask users to download and install an app on their mobile device to get your content.
Make a separate mobile version of your website. Setup a completely different URL where the website is built just for mobile devices, ie http://m.yourdomain.com
Make a responsive design. Build a single website that adjusts its layout according to the dimensions of the screen viewing the site.
Making an App
Many popular news organizations and other businesses have gone the app route. If you visit their site on your mobile device, you are prompted to download and install their app in order to access their content. There are obvious flaws to this approach:
Users don’t want to install an app for a site they are only going to visit a couple times
It takes time to download, install, open and then figure out how to use this new app
It costs a lot of money to build an app
Apps are not the best approach for website content (i.e., any of our clients)
Separate Mobile Version of Your Website
Another approach is to build a second version of your website specifically for mobile devices. If someone accesses your site from a mobile device, you redirect them to this other version which is designed and built for this one purpose. This means a whole new set of code to display the exact same content and information to your visitors. It costs money to develop this second website and also maintain over time.
The last option is to make a responsive design. This means you make one version of your website that can adjust on the fly based on the users device size using CSS. This wasn’t possible a few years ago when mobile devices first started, but we’re finally abandoning some of the old Internet Explorer browsers which were so feature-lacking yet used by a lot of visitors we had to support it. With those out of the way, we can make use of modern website building methods to achieve responsive design.
Recently, Google publicized their recommendations which was to build responsive designs. If Google says it, most likely it is what everyone will fall into. But in regards to mobile versions of sites, I think it’s clear that responsive design is the right way – regardless of what Google says,
Yes, we are building responsive designs for our clients, and have been for a while. If you are an existing client and want us to go back and make your site mobile friendly, we can! Just give us a shout and we’ll be glad to work on it for you.