After Google announcing a new version of their search algorithm for mobile searches, many of the businesses started working on designing their websites to make them mobile friendly. Websites that have already adopted mobile design ranked well in the search results, while others are scrambling to make their websites compatible for mobile devices. Yet, some of us still hesitate to make the transition because we are not sure where to start and how to approach. But one thing is important to remember, using mobile devices for accessing internet is picking up very fast. Increasing numbers of users are accessing internet via mobile devices and it is going to be the future trend for internet browsing for the next few years. The sooner you learn about it, the faster you can work on structuring our websites for mobile users.
Depending on the web traffic and current website design you need to first determine the right approach to create a mobile friendly web presence. With any one of the following methodologies, you can make your website design compatible for users and search engines alike.
Mobile friendly means reducing the normal website display to smaller size so that it is easily accessible across all platforms, especially mobile devices and tabs. Even though it is not an ideal design, it is somewhat better than the normal display. As it still requires lot of scrolling and zooming to view the pages, it will not give good satisfying experience to the users. If it is the business necessity to deliver website across all platforms then this approach is much simpler to work on unlike other complex designs like adaptive and responsive.
In mobile first approach, websites are designed first for mobile or smaller versions and then later more features are added to enhance the design for bigger screens. This type of design approach is also called as “progressive enhancement”. This approach is viable if businesses are exclusively targeting mobile users. It is quite opposite to the “graceful degradation” approach where websites are primarily created to serve the best experience possible to the desktop users and subsequently scaled back to fit into the smaller screens.
Separate Mobile Site (or m dot site)
A mobile site or m dot site is a separate website that has been created with different domain name, usually m.websitename.com. It doesn’t have to look like the exact replica of your main website which means the smaller versions can be slightly different than the main website. Generally, many businesses try to change their existing website design for mobile friendly approach but sometimes it will not be very effective on smaller screens. In such scenarios, they make another website with m dot domain specifically for mobile and tab users. These two are treated as separate websites but are built to serve the same purpose.
It is one of the best options because responsive design responds based on the device type and screen size. No matter what type of device the user is using to browse the website, all the page elements adjust their size to give a better possible look. The main purpose of this design approach is to make a single website that responds flexibly for different devices. When switching from bigger screens to smaller versions many of the features get distorted and doesn’t give the same feel and look of the original website. But when website is built as responsive, irrespective of the device and browser, the design adjusts itself to the screen.
Adaptive design, on the other hand, detects screen width of the device first and based on that it delivers appropriate layout on the screen. The main difference between responsive and adaptive is, responsive is flexible design and adjusts the layout to fit any of the screen sizes whereas adaptive identifies the screen size before delivering the page layout. Generally, adaptive sites use predefined set of standard design layouts based on the screen widths. Six designs are the current standards, but depending on the requirement different layout designs can be made to fit screen widths of different devices.