Now that even your parents have smartphones and know how to browse the web on them, there's no arguing the importance of having a mobile-friendly website these days. So we're not talking if, but how. Depending on your organisations requirements, we recommend a few different approaches to getting mobile. Intrigued? Read on...
Responsive website development is quickly becoming an industry standard amongst website programmers and designers. At a bare minimum we believe all websites should be responsive.
The Responsive Web Design approach puts an emphasis on designing and constructing websites which are fluid and automatically resize or 'respond' to the screen in which they appear. The aim being to provide an optimal viewing experience for the user (easy to navigate and read) on a wide range of devices (from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones).
Think about the diverse variety of devices available in today's technology marketplace. There are so many different screen sizes and resolutions available - and you can bet the number is only set to increase. In a way, a responsive website could be considered a future-proofing solution, as your website will automatically bend and morph itself to fit any new devices as they go on sale.
A mobile website is designed specifically for viewing on mobile devices, taking in to account all the opportunities and limitations of the small screen. Content must be fast-to-load, easy-to-read and to-the-point.
A mobile specific website should aim to compliment its desktop counterpart - with the user being offered one or the other depending on what their device detects as the most suitable for browsing. Given that two versions of the website are essentially being deployed, the development process involves the creation of a separate design and a separate sitemap to cater for each environment.
This approach generally fits best where there's a need for your organisation to 'cut away the fat' of the desktop website, with a primary focus on targeting core services or products - and displaying them in a way which is highly practical for users on the go (such as online booking systems or event management). It is worth noting this approach is becoming increasing complicated to develop for, given the sheer number of devices (and corresponding screen sizes and resolutions) on the market.
A mobile app (or app) is software designed to run on devices such as smartphones and tablets. Apps are available to download through distribution platforms such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store and BlackBerry App World.
Developing an app generally fits best if your organisation has a particular angle or niche which requires a highly interactive user interface and the use of phone features such as location services and the inbuilt camera. App-appropriate examples include mobile games, GPS and location-based services, banking, order-tracking and ticket purchasing.
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