The question of whether it is best to use a specific mobile website or a responsive website design when trying to create a website that will be accessible through multiple formats is one that is becoming more and more important; especially as more people use mobile devices to access the internet.
The explosion in use and popularity of iPhones, Android mobile devices and other smartphones has meant that websites have to be designed in more innovative ways in order to function correctly. To give you a greater understanding of the debate, we have composed this brief guide to the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.
The different approaches
Responsive website design gives the developer of a particular site the ability to create one design that is adaptable to a variety of platforms or formats. As such, all devices visiting the site will have access to a single source of content, with the layout adapted to the particular device in use, in order to minimise the need for scrolling, resizing or panning.
On the other hand, specific mobile websites are fairly self-explanatory. They use entirely different sources of content for mobile devices and traditional computers, meaning that the sites are tailor made for each platform.
Which approach you prefer, or think is most useful, will largely depend on the specifics of the situation. There are, however, a few important aspects to consider.
Ease of use
Though responsive design is generally a good way of creating a site that is useable over a variety of platforms, it does have its limitations. Studies over the way in which people use the internet on mobile devices showed users are far less patient with sites which have a lot of content and lack speed in their content delivery.
This means that the ease of use of a website is not just dependant on the formatting of the page, but also the content. Responsive design suffers from the lack of ability to alter content so that it is suitable for the particular device in use.
The way in which responsive designs are usually created with one particular platform at the forefront, then exported to others, often leads to a substandard user experience. This experience could then lead to users neglecting this service in favour of others, losing the company vital business.
Responsive designs are generally cheaper than separate mobile sites. This means that deciding which approach to use will largely depend on the expected return of the investment and the amount of traffic your mobile site will receive.
If you know that you will have a large amount of mobile traffic, and that they will require the ease of use a specific mobile website provides, the extra investment in a specific mobile website should definitely be considered.
So, if you’re using interested in opening your business to the world of mobile marketing and services then speak to providers such as Webeden to create a website that is accessible to all.