By Justin on October 3, 2012
I recently wrote this for a customer. Since I need to do these 2-3 times a month I thought I’d put it here. Also thought I’d share in case anyone has input, thinks I’m wrong, or whatever.
There are three approaches to having a site that works well on mobile devices.
- Create a totally separate mobile site similar to http://m.rei.com or http://m.cnn.com. When users go to your site the site detects if it’s a mobile devise and directs them accordingly. These are good if you have a pretty big site with lots of info that you think is too complex for mobile users to use or you have an extremely high percentage of mobile users. It also allows you to present special info to mobile users. For example you could assume that a large percent of mobile users are looking for directions to something so you can be sure that directions info is more prominent. This is a costly option since it’s really a totally separate site with totally separate code. One update to your main site doesn’t mean the mobile updates.
- Create a responsive site similar to what we did on http://www.voyager-industries.com/ or http://www.omscmn.com/ (we didn’t design this just implemented a responsive design). You can see it if you make grab the corner of your browser window and start to make it smaller. At some point the whole layout changes. This option gives you a mobile site of sorts and uses the same files as the normals site. This means if you make an update to your main site it also updates the mobile site. In general the reasons for creating these are similar to the option above. You have the opportunity to prioritize information that you think a mobile user would most want and the info can be presented a little cleaner on mobile devices. To implement this option is slightly cheaper than the first option but not by a ton. The big gain is in the ease of maintenance.
- Just make your site work on mobile devices. Here you just display your full site on mobile devices and make sure it renders properly. By far the cheapest option as no customizations really need to happen. This is what Great has. It’s not a bad way to go. In fact modern phones are more than capable of handling a full screen website. With my phone I typically hit the button that takes me away from the mobile site to the full version.
Again there are reasons to go mobile (option 1 and 2).
- if you want to present special info to mobile users
- If for some reason you have an extremely high percentage of mobile usage. Some would argue that mobile device usage is going up in general and they’d probably be right.
- If you feel your site is complex for a mobile user to successfully navigate it
- It does have a certain cool factor if that helps your org seem more techy or modern.
Let me know if you want some estimates for Option 1 or 2. FYI, I’d suggest option 2 if you want to go mobile with the site.