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Mobile Web Design - Your Options

Updated on April 7, 2016

Dedicated Mobile Website

A dedicated mobile website will usually have its own domain or subdomain such as mobile.twitter.com.

Pros:

  • Mobile users can still access the original site if they please.
  • Faster load-times and performance due to optimizing of file-sizes for mobile.

Cons:

  • You may have to maintain two versions of your website content - depending on how it is set-up.
  • It is quite costly to create and maitin entirely new website.

Mobile Theme (for platforms such as Drupal)

Should you be using a CMS such as Drupal, a separate theme could be created. The same content will be displayed, but the CMS will detect which browser the user is accessing the website with and render the page with the appropriate theme.

Pros:

  • Theme-related images and stylesheets can be optimized in file size for mobile.

Cons:

  • It will cost extra to develop a second design.
  • There will be two themes to maintain in the long-run.

Responsive Layout

This is a relatively ‘modern’ approach to going mobile. With an adaptive layout, you have on website that adapts to the screen size using media queries. A quick example is this site - see below.

Pros:

  • Faster turn-around time as opposed to creating separate themes or websites.
  • A fairly uniform experience across all devices.
  • There is only web website and theme to maintain.

Cons:

  • Media queries are not natively supported in older desktop browsers such as Internet Explorer 8, although there is a handy work-around using javascript that fixes this.
  • Older mobile devices may not support media queries, although if using Opera Mini, the website will generally display fine.
  • Images are not reduced in file size for faster load times.

Mobile App

The most costly and time-consuming solution would be to create a mobile app. Wait... make that apps. If you simply account for iphones, androids, you will already have to develop and maintain two separate apps (one for each device type).

Pros:

  • Very suited to web complex web applications. Usually fast.
  • Can work offline if desired.

Cons:

  • Very expensive and time consuming.
  • May require additional development work on the website itself to provide a method for the app and website to exchange data.

Conclusion

It is important to consider your target market. If your target market uses smartphones, such as iphones, we would encourage a responsive layout. However, if your target market uses older or more affordable phone, then consider a mobile theme.

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