Web design tip # 4 – It’s all about responsive websites
With the massive surge in customers using smartphones to access your website, the argument for developing a mobile friendly website is very strong. So lets assume you have decided that having your website developed in a mobile friendly format is the way to go, you now need to consider what type of mobile website will work best for you.
Although the mobile web industry is still in its infancy, there are two distinct schools of thought surrounding mobile websites. The first mobile websites to appear, lets call them ‘m.websites’, work by creating an alternative version of your whole website which sits on a sub-domain, and when a device accesses the site, it determines based on screen size which version of the site is displayed.
More recently, ‘responsive websites’ have started to prove popular. Responsive websites only require one version of a website to be built and using cascading style sheets the website will be optimised for display on any number of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
How do you know which one is right for you? Here are some of the key benefits and drawbacks for each type of mobile website.
m.websites are often seen as a quick fix for people who already have a strong traditional website. They can often be implemented quickly and cost effectively without having to change your main website. A good designer can even make your mobile website look more like a native phone app if required.
Websites built this way do have some drawbacks however. They are only built for specific platforms. An m.website would look the same viewed from a smartphone as it would from a tablet and not take advantage of the tablets larger display size. Also, as you are effectively duplicating all the content on your website, you may find yourself penalised in search engine results as well. Google see’s duplicate content as a way of manipulating results and is known to apply ranking penalties for doing so.
Responsive websites are built from the ground up with different devices and screen sizes in mind. Responsive websites can even include different versions of the website when displayed in either portrait or landscape on a smartphone or tablet. Responsive websites also don’t suffer from any search engine penalties imposed as only one version of the content is stored on your website.
If responsive websites where to have a drawback, it would be that you need to start your website from scratch to make it work which can be more time consuming and as a result be more expensive.
If you are looking for a website for a new business or want to change your tired old website completely this would should be the way to go, but do bare in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule based on the complexity of some websites and of course your budget for the project.
If you require any further clarification, please do not hesitate to get in touch or comment below.