Mobile Friendly Web Design

Why A Mobile Website

The expansion and development of mobile internet networks coupled with an increasing number of smaller devices, smart-phones and tablets, means that people are no longer tied to desktop devices to surf. Increasingly internet usage is becoming mobile and whilst traditional websites may look fine on a laptop or desktop on a smart-phone they require a lot of scrolling left and right to read the text.

Mobile Websites

Apart from the usability aspect there are other factors associated with mobile browsing that need to be considered. It has been reported that Google return mobile sites higher in search results pages for searches conducted from a mobile device. This coupled with much higher conversion rates - the ratio of visitors to say sales - for mobile devices, make this a lucrative and growing sector of the market. The accepted explanation for this seems to be that as typing in a search on a mobile device is harder than on a PC, there is less surfing going on and more goal oriented searching. If someone is searching for a particular album title then they probably want to buy that album, or more so than if they were searching from a PC.

Mobile Website Solutions

So seeing the need for mobile website solutions, what is the best way of going about it?

There are 2 main possibilities, a mobile only section on the same site or a sub-domain or a responsive design. A mobile only section consists of your content presented in a minimalist fashion with light-weight pages solely designed for mobile consumption. Whilst increasing the number of pages on your site, generally a good thing, there is also the possibility of duplicate content and the negative impact this may have on the SEO (search engine optimisation) of the page, although there are methods to circumvent this.

It may not always be possible to detect that a visitor to the site is using a mobile device, so an initial call to a page may have to provide options to go to the mobile site or redirect there. It is usually possible though on modern smart-phones to detect the device once a page is loading, which gives the other possibility, a responsive page. With a responsive web design the page layout usually contains some fluidity that allows the layout to alter in response to the browser window width, as well as different styling at different widths. Typically the optimum web design for a mobile is a single column with an easily accessible menu, however this can look bland at a full screen width. Responsive design tries therefore to create a multi column site at full width that flows into one column at the width of a mobile. Potential drawbacks with this approach can be that the page is heavier than it would be if it were a purely mobile page. However there are techniques to overcome these potential problems.

I believe the responsive approach to web design is the one with the most potential. Increasing mobile network speeds mean that page size problems are on the decrease. Keeping only one copy of the page means anyone linking to that page from any device, links to the same page, not a mobile or desktop version. This has the obvious benefit of increasing the popularity of that page by not diluting the number of incoming links to the page.

First Time Buyers

If you're looking for your first website, the responsive solution covers both mobile and desktop markets at a stroke, no need to have two separate sites built.

Current Website Owners

If you already have a website, it may be possible to convert it to mobile fairly easily depending on it's structure and complexity of design, however if this is not easily achievable then the cheapest solution may be to add a mobile only section.

I can provide you with either solution, a responsive design or a separate mobile only site. The really important thing is to have a mobile friendly presence on the internet regardless of the approach used.

Responsive Database Driven Websites From £399