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Responsive Design & Mobile Optimisation

More and more potential customers are viewing your website via a mobile device whether it's a smart phone or a tablet of some description. Recent reports show this to be the case and we don’t think that this fact will surprise anyone. What may suprise you though, is that those same reports are showing that although more people are viewing websites via their mobile devices – they do not seem to be buying … website conversion rates are substantially lower for mobile devices and do not appear to be increasing proportionally with the increase in mobile usage.

The reason why we mention this is because there are two possible methods of attack in regard to the mobile optimisation of your website and the debate on which is best or the ‘right way forward’ is still on-going within the web design communities. It is abundantly clear that newly built websites should be designed with the mobile markets in mind and that older websites should be re-optimised to remain attractive – but should you go with a ‘responsive design’ or a ‘stand alone’, purpose built mobile website?

This page explores ‘mobile optimisation’ and 'responsive design' but more specifically, how we tackle both issues at Saxon Websites™. Mobile optimisation is a very important part of the website design process and we ultimately will leave the decision on which of the above two approaches to take – to you. Of course we will advise on the best course of action, based primarily, on your available budget and time constraints. We are capable of producing, and have experience with, both stand alone mobile websites and responsive websites … how we optimise your business website will be your choice, we’ll just provide the facts about mobile optimisation so you can make an informed decision. Explore the articles below about mobile optimisation, hopefully they will provide insight into some of the benefits, pitfalls and conundrums involved.

Being Practical

In the main, website owners are very territorial and possessive over their website and although they appreciate nowadays they do either have to change their existing design to meet the new mobile markets or invest in a new one – they hate you reorganising their web pages. How we, as designers are supposed to fit the entire contents of a web page designed to fill a PC screen onto the screen of an i-phone without making alterations or adjusting the layout is sometimes beyond belief and just not practical or realistic in a lot of cases.

Responsive Design & Mobile Optimisation - Being PracticalMobile optimisation by definition means restructuring both content and layout so the page loads quickly enough and displays well on a mobile device whilst retaining essential page components in order to maintain the pages intended message. In practical terms, mobile optimisation means that something on that page has to be either relocated or done away with. The differences between the term ‘mobile website’ and ‘mobile optimisation’ need to be clearly understood – a mobile website is actually designed specifically for a mobile device and laid out accordingly from the beginning whereas ‘mobile optimisation’ involves optimising (or changing) an existing website designed to be displayed on a PC ... to display and perform on a mobile device. The latter (mobile optimisation) does require change!

Mobile website or responsive design?

There are several ways of achieving mobile optimisation

The bottom line is that generally speaking the customer (website owner) doesn’t care so long as he/she gets their mobile website and it looks good – the conundrum as to whether mobile optimisation is achieved via a ‘responsive’ design or a ‘stand alone’ mobile website, is one for the website designer/developer to resolve. There has been a lot of ‘hype’ surrounding the term responsive design, in the context of mobile optimisation, leading some uninformed people to think this must surely be the way forward. Most website designers however, realise that each website must be taken on a case-by-case basis and mobile optimisation doesn’t automatically mean a responsive solution is best.

A complete redesign is sometimes more appropriate than mobile optimisationIt is true that a good designer can achieve the sites’ mobile optimisation via either strategy, but, he/she also has to consider development time and this is governed by the structure of the website he/she is tasked to optimise. New business websites should now be founded on a responsive platform – this, we believe has been widely accepted and safe to say. Legacy websites (websites that were built prior to the mobile boom) however, are a different beast – these were not built with responsive principles in mind and in a lot of cases are more difficult to adapt through responsive design without severely attacking the code base. When you consider development time, this option may in fact become more expensive to implement and not in the customer’s best interest. In conclusion, mobile optimisation should not automatically mean a responsive solution is best for you or your client – take a good look at the website and consider what is actually involved and how long it will take.