In our recent 10 Things to Watch in Web Design and Marketing article, we briefly mentioned the growing importance of having a mobile-specific website. This has long been the case for consumer-facing businesses, but it increasingly applies to web design and marketing for B2B companies as well.
So why exactly are mobile sites so essential to web design and marketing?
According to ClickZ, almost half of Google’s traffic came from mobile devices from June through November of 2014. And TechCrunch declared in the summer of 2014 that the majority of all media consumption takes place in mobile apps. (Updated April, 2015.)
OK, so you need a mobile site.
There are currently three different web design methods for developing mobile-friendly websites:
A responsive website, a term coined in 2010 by web designer Ethan Marcotte, offers the same content that the desktop version offers, only the layout is fluid. Boxes shift and stack on top of each other, fonts change and images shrink as the browser window decreases. This is handy from a site management perspective, as it means there’s only one set of content to manage.
A good example of responsive web design is this site we’re working on for Kyocera Document Solutions (pictured to the right). Notice how the site morphs so that all content can be reached regardless of screen size.
An adaptive website, brought into the web lexicon by author Aaron Gustafson, differs from a responsive website in a few subtle ways. Rather than changing fluidly to fit the browser window, the server detects what device the user is on and uses cascading style sheets (CSS) to serve up different code depending on the screen size.
Adaptive websites can also offer unique content sets and functionality based on practicality and user need. If an operating system and browser are able to display a style or functionality enhancement, then it’s dynamically added in. If it doesn’t make sense in a particular view, it’s pulled out. We’ve used adaptive techniques to reduce the amount of clutter on homepages when viewed on the phone, or to place contact information higher up in the view.
In certain cases, a user’s needs differ so greatly when they visit on a phone from when they visit on a desktop that a completely different mobile-specific content set is needed. A perfect example of this would be an airline website. A person sitting at his or her desk has very different objectives than one heading to the airport, and serving both users the same set of content wouldn’t make sense.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
So how do we decide which approach to take? The best place to start is to review your site’s analytics to see what the most visited pages are on different platforms. And if you can, ask them directly. Surveys and interviews are a great way to find out for sure. Either way, try to put yourself in your customers’ position– what are they most likely to need from you if they’re on a mobile device? Directions? Contact Information? A video summary? To find a product?
Once these factors are considered, it becomes much easier to decide the right fit – responsive, adaptive or mobile-specific – and begin planning the best possible user experience.
If your site needs a mobile makeover and you’re not sure where to start, contact our web design and marketing experts and we’d be happy to help.