Given the speed of smartphones and tablets entering the mainstream as the primary devices to research and purchase, marketers need to create mobile friendly websites, landing pages, and email templates to be successful.
There are two approaches when thinking about the mobile experience. The first is responsive design; the process of building a website capable of rendering correctly on any size device by using flexible grids, scaling images and CSS media queries. The second is building separate mobile apps for each device. The decision to use one over the other or in tandem, many times comes down to company goals, target audience, budget and resources.
Is A Mobile App Necessary?
What platform will provide a reliable, trouble free way for your customers to learn more, act fast and convert? Each business is unique with different goals and objectives. A platform that works for one company may be a waste of money for another. A mobile app may still make sense for some companies, but is definitely not for all.
An example of companies a mobile app would be appropriate for is a bank or insurance company because an app can store login and account information, making it quick and easy to check a balance, transaction or claim. A banking mobile app gives the user camera capabilities to take a photo of a check and allow a deposit that a desktop user would not have access to.
If an app will not add convenience or a benefit to the user it is not recommended to spend the money creating one. Many agencies or mobile app development firms charge per carrier for an app so the cost to create an app for each can get pretty pricy. Not to mention the more platforms a company has to manage the more man power they need to make sure there is always updated content.
2014 Is The Year Of Responsive Design
Responsive website design became popular this year, but next year it will be mandatory for online success. The number of mobile technologies being introduced to the masses is always in flux because a new model or design comes out every few months. Responsive design is appealing because it gives companies an opportunity to have one website that appropriately adjusts to the device size for any online experience, creating flawless transitions and a seamless appearance of content for the user, no matter what new device comes out.
The responsive process is accomplished with a design language called CSS, an external file that contains information on how a web page should be displayed. It reads the size and screen resolution of the device allowing the best version of the site to be displayed. Developers indicate specific dimensions for different devices when creating the site. There are four screen sizes that responsive design developers have been focused on: mobile phone, tablet, wide screen desktop and small screen desktop. If a logo, image or piece of content needs to be a certain size within a webpage, the developers indicate the percentage it should be in each dimension size. When the screen size fluctuates, the content on the webpage will adapt to fit within the guidelines the developers have set.
Mobile vs. Desktop
Think mobile first! Companies have started to realize that mobile users interact with their website much differently than a desktop user. A mobile user is typically searching on their phone to find information in real time. For example they want to check the score of a game or look up hours of operation. As opposed to a desktop user who sits at the computer for longer periods of time researching, comparing prices and making a purchase.
“More than 50% of traffic is coming from mobile devices (tablets or cell phones). With this volume it is imperative to cater your website to be mobile friendly. IMI developed a unique process for our client’s responsiveness by designing for mobile first. It is a lot easier to add functionality and ascetics than it is to subtract.” – Jared Wooden, IMI Web Developer Manager
We are in the digital age and it feels like there is a mobile takeover with new devices and screen sizes changing constantly. Businesses need to think about responsive design and incorporate it into their digital strategy. With the number of mobile users rising, companies that don’t adapt will fall behind.