Business owners know that a mobile-ready site is critical for success on the Web, but navigating the maze of design and development options can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. A few basic guidelines can help you make the most of your company’s mobile presence.
The first step is to figure out what your business needs. “A lot of clients come to us not knowing what they actually need — a mobile app, a responsive site or something else, Sometimes, they are not clear on what responsive means.
In basic terms, a responsive website changes its appearance based on the screen size of the device on which it is loaded. Users who interact with a website on a full-size desktop or laptop screen will see a “traditional” site that contains full navigation, copy and images. Customers who visit the site on a tablet or mobile device will see a version of the site that has rearranged, added or eliminated elements of the page to best serve the device’s capabilities and the user’s needs. A mobile user visiting a restaurant’s website, for example, may be greeted with a Call for Reservations button and the restaurant’s hours, rather than a large animated image that might be on the full-size site.
Responsive sites offer a few advantages over other methods, for instance, “If they are developed correctly, they should work on any mobile device that has Internet access, responsive sites are also less expensive and easier to update.
Whereas a responsive site uses the same code to produce views for mobile and tablet users, a mobile site is essentially a separate website that loads only when the website is accessed using a mobile device. This method offers the designer and developer more opportunities to customize the appearance and content of both the mobile and desktop versions of the site, but it’s less flexible in terms of presentation on multiple screen sizes.
Finally, mobile apps are what users download from the Google Play or Apple App stores. Mobile apps offer developers opportunities to interact with capabilities offered by smartphones or tablets, such as GPS, messages, contacts, that may not be available on websites but are often more expensive to develop and harder to update. “Mobile apps would be better for product solutions — if you are charging people to access the content, the main application would be downloaded to the customer’s phone, so Internet access is not mandatory.”
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