Have you ever entered a busy restaurant to find a sea of people staring at their laps? 15 years ago this might have been cause for concern, but nowadays it’s standard fare. We all know that these patrons aren’t social outcasts but normal people like you and me, checking email or surfing the web from our mobile phones.
The mobile sector is the biggest growth area on the Web. It’s even more popular than cat videos. More and more people are using their smart phones and tablets as their primary browser. And while some of these devices can display regular sites, a mobile-specific website gives a faster and more satisfying experience (which pretty much guarantees your site being cooler than most cat videos).
There are three ways to make your website mobile friendly:
- Tweak: The simplest way is to make small tweaks, even if the entire experience is not optimized for mobile. This may include increasing the size of tiny navigation buttons to make them easier to click with your thumb, for example.
- Separate: Another option is to create a completely separate website that is optimized for mobile (like we did for University of Ottawa). This mobile-specific site should contain only a subset of the overall content and functionality of the full site – sort of an abridged version of your site. This is recommended if the needs of your mobile audience are simple and can be condensed. Sometimes you need to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but other times the cliff notes will do just fine.
- Make Responsive: By far the coolest of the three techniques, Responsive Web Design adjusts your website’s design and content depending on the screen size of the browser. So a mobile user would see the mobile-specific version, the tablet user would see the tablet-specific version, and everyone else sees your regular website. Many content-driven sites already leverage this approach because it makes reading much more enjoyable for their many mobile and tablet users. You can see Responsive Web Design in action by pulling up the Analog Method website and resizing your browser window. See how the layout changes? That’s Responsive Web Design. Yeah, we think it’s cool too.
Any of these mobile techniques may be right for you. Regardless of which approach you choose, you don’t want to exclude this massive and fast growing audience. To get you started, we’ve posted a list of useful mobile web resources on our blog. Make sure to check it out, even if you’re in the middle of dessert!