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The Difference Between Responsive and Mobile Websites? – Part III: The Struggle: Deciding Which Is Best For You.

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This will be the final part to our series on Responsive and Mobile websites. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know by now that both mobile platforms offer their own advantages and disadvantages – and both can be effective in offering consumers and your website visitors a good mobile browsing experience.


The battle between which platform is best is an on-going debate amongst us web designers and developers. Some people would call responsive design a trend, whereas others would say it’s the future of the web – one thing is for certain, mobile technology is not going anywhere anytime soon, so offering your website with mobile support is a must regardless of which route you take.


When dealing with clients who are looking to build a mobile website, I like to have an idea of what they expect their users to be doing with the mobile version of the website and to know the amount of information that currently exists on their full-sized website.

As a designer I see the benefits of both responsive and mobile websites; the debate isn’t so much as to which platform is the best overall, but which platform is the best for each specific project. Which platform will translate my existing content and website into a mobile accessible version most accurately and effectively?

 

The Responsive


Responsive websites are perfect platforms for businesses who are constantly making updates and changes to the content of their websites, it allows a business to update only 1 set of content pages; and will update on all devices whether it is a tablet, an iPhone or a Smartphone. For example; The Boston Globe is designed and developed using the Responsive platform.


This makes sense for this specific project because every day they offer their readers multiple new stories or updates – it would be costly for them to have to update their website twice so that the content on their mobile version coincided with their full-sized website. Deciding to go with a responsive layout, the company spent a little more money on the initial development, but saved loads of time on updating two different sets of content.


In the case where your business performs updates on a regular basis, it would be a smart idea to look into making your existing website responsive or developing a brand new responsive site from scratch so that those updates in the future will not be an issue for your mobile website.

Examples of Responsive Websites:


http://bostonglobe.com/
 
http://foodsense.is/
 

http://css-tricks.com/


The Stand Alone

The stand-alone mobile website is a good choice for a company who would like to offer company information to a client for instance – somebody whose content is not updated on a regular basis. It would take an initial investment of designing and developing the mobile site, but once the content is written for it, it exists and you only have to update when you want to make a major change. It also encourages the designer and company to develop a version of the website with user context in mind. We have full control over how the website will look, what content, and what features will be available to the user when the website is loaded.


It can be argued that users who are browsing the internet on their mobile phones do not want the exact same content as they would browsing websites on their desktops because they are in different use scenarios, for instance – sitting down at a bus station, looking up a schedule for when the next bus arrives. The user would benefit from having clutter content removed, allowing access to the bus schedule almost immediately. The same user, using a desktop is less likely to require such an immediate interaction with the website, because he or she is at home and likely looking to take a bus in the future – more content and information could be made visible as the user browses the website.


Depending on the size of your company’s website and what features your users would like to have access to, the stand alone mobile website varies in cost; with the large projects costing more money and taking more time to develop – on the other hand, a small stand-alone mobile website could be a fast and affordable option.

Examples of Stand Alone Websites:

 
http://m.travelrepublic.co.uk/
 
https://m.toogethr.com/
 
http://m.ikea.com/


This concludes the Difference Between Responsive and Mobile Websites Series, we hope this introduction to both mobile platforms has helped in creating a better understanding and awareness of the mobile options that are available to you, and how you can gauge which platform will be most effective for your future projects.


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Guest Monday, 01 September 2014