Article Header: Mobile: Which Approach Is Best for You?

Mobile: Which Approach Is Best for You?

May 15th, 2013   |  

So, you have a website that works well on your desktop but is hard to use on your mobile device, and you want to know how to fix it.

First, know that you are not alone. With the use of mobile devices on the rise every year, more and more companies are scrambling to customize and improve their websites for mobile devices. Second, after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of your options, so you can more easily determine the best solution for your website. Finally, taking action is the wisest move you can make. Many mobile users equate the quality of their experience on a website with the quality of that company and its services, so if your website is frustrating and hard to use, users may leave for one that is not, taking their business with them.

Native  App
A native app (or application) is a self contained program that is designed to work on a specific mobile device (Apple, Android, etc.). The app is downloaded and stored on the device and can be accessed with or without a connection to the internet (though some apps require an internet connection to access new content).

Pros:

  • The native application can use all the device’s features and controls to allow for a truly customizable experience. For example, the Global Positioning Service (GPS) functionality on the device can be used to show the closest business locations to the user.
  • The application does not take up a lot of space on the device and uses the internet less, which saves the user money, depending on his or her data plan.

Cons:

  • Developing apps for various devices can be very time consuming and costly.
  • Maintaining apps takes more time, as it involves customization for many devices.
  • The app may need to be approved by a third-party (e.g., Apple) before it can be available in some app stores.

Dedicated Mobile Website
A dedicated mobile website is a website that is exclusively designed and built for viewing on mobile devices. These designs maintain the style and branding of the full website, but minimize content and navigation while changing the layout of the website to limit actions to the most important information and tasks.

Pros:

  • Dedicated mobile websites offer improved performance of the website by eliminating any unneeded images or content.
  • The task specific paths make the website faster and easier for people to use and understand.

Cons:

  • A dedicated site can be relatively expensive to design, build, and maintain, as it is a separate website.
  • Images and content must be reconfigured and edited separately for the new layout.

Responsive Design
Responsive design, also known as adaptive layout, refers to websites that change their layout and content based on the size of the device they are being viewed on. This is done with code on the website called media queries, which check the size of the device screen and display the appropriate layout for that screen.

Pros:

  • These designs are easy to build when considered from the start of the project.
  • Responsive design results in improved readability and experience for mobile visitors.
  • You do not have to limit your content.

Cons:

  • Older mobile and desktop browsers, including Internet Explorer 8, do not natively support media queries, so a work-around may be required to make them work.
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