The new BBC mobile site has turned heads for its responsive design, giving it the edge over its competitors and generally impressing users. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, mobile is now the key battleground as companies and organizations fight for the attention of users who have the choice between traditional web browsing, or the increasingly popular app based experience.
Mobile strategies are now richer than ever with many choosing to take the four-pronged attack of app, mobile site, SMS marketing and taking advantage of free email templates to reach as many users as possible in the most effective way. But when designing your mobile site, you must keep the following in mind:
So What’s Responsive Mobile Design?
Simply put, responsive mobile design is a term used to describe a website that is able to scale and redesign itself dependent on which device is being used to browse it. So, the basic content of the site will be the same whether you are on a PC, smartphone, tablet or internet TV, it’s just that clever coding in the background gives the user a customized experience.
Do I Need It?
As with any innovation, the choice is yours as to whether you feel you need it but with the redesign of the BBC website, we may have reached critical mass. Users will now expect the same web experience and content regardless of their device (so that means ‘good bye to Flash’ for the most part) and if you cannot deliver that, you may find that your traffic starts to dry up.
Are There Any Downsides?
There are a few downsides to responsive mobile design. First, some websites aren’t really suited for mobile browsing so simply porting them to smartphones and tablets can make the experience feel unnatural. The main drawback is the amount of time it takes to code and then test your site in the first place. It needs to be suitable for a dizzying number of devices and screen sizes (not to mention different browsers) and will need to be updated almost constantly as new devices, such as the new iPad Mini, hit the market.
Do I Need To Overhaul My Current Mobile Site?
In short, no. If you already have a functioning and successful mobile site then there is no need to change it. If your mobile traffic starts to fall off or if users are giving you negative feedback then consider a redesign.
Another instance where you might consider overhauling your mobile site is when you decide to overhaul your main site. Take that as an opportunity to embrace responsive mobile design.
What Should I Avoid?
When designing your site, avoid filling your pages with too many text links. Mobile users will need to zoom in to use them and may not like the experience. Similarly, try to avoid objects that will take time to load. This is OK on a PC with a broadband connection but large graphics, videos or background music will slow the load times to a crawl on a mobile device.
As touched on earlier, you should certainly avoid anything that is not going to be compatible with all devices. Flash is the obvious one, thanks to Apple’s continuing ambivalence towards the product but research other content types to avoid embarrassment.