My previous blog post asked the question: “Do you need a mobile friendly website?”, so after reading that you should already have a good idea of what mobile support could do for your online conversions. With all of this in mind, you’ve decided that you what your website to cater for mobile devices. What is the best way to implement this on your website? This question brings us to the topic of today’s blog post.
We are going be taking a look at, what is in my opinion, the best way to cater for mobile devices that access your site. Now, there are basically two schools of thought here, Responsive Design and Mobile Site.
A mobile site is a site that has been specifically designed to be used on a mobile device. This website is separate from your ‘normal’ website and is accessed from a different URL, most commonly by adding a ‘m.’ in front of the normal URL. When a user accesses the website, they will be directed to the version of the website which is best suited to the resolution of the device that they are using, be it a desktop monitor or a mobile phone.
Responsive design involves creating a single website and using the CCS (Cascading Style Sheets) to adapt the website to suit the devices that it is being accessed from. This is done by determining the resolution of the device that the website is being viewed on. The content of the site can then be adapted in size to better fit the screen resolution of said device.
Which should I use?
Personally, I believe that responsive design is the superior method. I don’t, for a moment deny that a mobile site has its advantages and in some cases a mobile site may indeed be the best approach since you could serve a completely different website with different content rather than the same content with a different layout. However in most cases, you want to maintain the same content across all devices. There are numerous reasons why responsive design is better suited to this.
Because a mobile site is a separate website you are essentially building two websites, this means that both the development and the maintenance would be more expensive and that there is a risk of having duplicate content. A mobile site is also usually created to suit a specific device size and if you create a mobile site to, for example, fit the latest Samsung Galaxy smart phone, it may not work so well on a smaller BlackBerry.
Responsive design can cater for any device screen size, from the smallest smart phone to the largest desktop monitor and everything in between. Since a responsive website is only a single site it saves on the cost of development and maintenance. There is also no risk of being penalised by search engines for duplicate content and Google themselves say:
“Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.”
So by virtue of its flexibility alone, Responsive Design is, in my opinion, the superior technique when it comes to displaying your site on mobile devices.
Tags: Responsive Design