With the rise in mobile and tablet usage, companies are now analyzing and tracking more closely how much of the traffic is coming from mobile or tablet users. This is important to know because the experience of the user can differ dramatically from desk top to mobile device and if your site is not set up to address any sort of mobile traffic, your bounce rate could probably be improved with some mobile device enhancements in addition to your users overall experience. Below, we’ve provided three different options that could help your website presence and your user’s experience and we offer some basic information on how to navigate the differences between each one.
Adaptive or Optimized Design – This is probably the most simple and cost effective approach. With optimization, a developer will take the existing website, pair down the content and simplify the design for mobile and tablet users so that when a user visits the site they are accessing the most user friendly version for navigation, optimized text and site functionality. The idea is that the site should minimize the need for panning, scrolling and re sizing to access site content and overall functionality. Sample: http://www.foyfinancial.com
Responsive Web Design (RWD) – RWD is more complex since it’s a holistic design approach for a website. Essentially the design of a site is optimized for any and all users – desktop to smart phone to e Readers and tablet users. The designer creates a website design that will provide the best user experience, regardless of device. The developer then implements the site to recognize all traffic sources and the website changes in appearance automatically based on the user access. A site using RWD will provide the same content from all traffic sources and is designed based on browser width and using a fluid grid approach, rather than absolutes such as pixels. Extensive testing is involved to insure seamless and consistent experiences between various devices. Sample: http://www.mashable.com
Apps– If you’re going the app route, it’s important to establish beforehand the purpose of the app. If the app is just a smaller scale version of your website, an app probably isn’t the best approach. Optimization would be better suited. However, if you are addressing a specific function, experience or a suite of functions, an app could be the way to go. Apps are focused solely on a mobile user experience and with a scaled approach. Sites that have specific user log in areas or eCommerce sites will typically create an app to enhance and simplify a visitors experience. Apps follow the branding of the company or product and are a separate tool and function from the main website.