Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Responsive vs. Mobile Website Design: Two factors for your nonprofit to consider
Think about how many different sized screens you look at on a daily basis – cell phones, tablets, monitors, projectors, etc. With so many screens, it would be illogical to think one size fits all when it comes to websites. Fortunately, you have options when it comes to designing your website to accommodate different screen sizes. Both responsive web design and mobile sites are great options for making your website mobile friendly.
Responsive web design (RWD) is a way of creating your website to “respond” to different screen sizes. If you change the size of your website browser, check the webpage on your phone, or pull it up on an iPad, the webpage will automatically adjust to fit the screen. Here are two of our good causes with responsive websites: College Town All Nighter and WellStar Foundation.
Unlike RWD, a mobile site is a redesigned, simple website (not just a resized version of your full site). Content is condensed to only the parts of the website people use most often, and the parts people may need on the go. Mobile sites are typically formatted to accommodate the screen sizes of most cell phones and may not always be appropriate for tablets such as an iPad.
RWD and mobile sites may be two ways to solve the same problem, but they are very different solutions and you need to carefully consider which is better for your good cause. Here are the two factors to consider when making your decision:
Is there a specific task you'd like to help your mobile visitors with? Mobile sites are great if you want to deliver a very specific mobile experience to your audience. Instead of seeing your entire website, you might offer a mobile-only site that functions more like a mobile app with limited content and functions more appropriate for a user on the go. For example, if you are confident that your mobile users will mostly be checking your site for business hours, contact information, and directions, then a mobile site may be a good choice. You can design your mobile site so that the important information is front and center, and that way your users will easily, and quickly, be able to access that information on the go.
Would you rather have a more consistent experience for your website visitors across all their devices? Responsive web design is for you if you want to give your audience your entire website's content and functionality (or most of it) on their mobile device or tablet. Concise, well-written content is welcomed by users on all devices and can help convert visitors into supporters such as donors and volunteers. Responsive web design also relieves the need to maintain two disparate websites and helps to future-proof your site for new mobile devices and tablets that will be released in the coming years.
If you are in the process of redesigning your website (or putting a new site up altogether), consider responsive website design. This way, all of your bases are covered and you can guarantee any type of user a great experience when they visit your site, no matter what type of device they’re using.
Don’t make a blind choice when choosing between RWD and a mobile site – one over the other may be a better choice for your good cause. Study your options and make an informed decision so that your website offers a good user experience with adequate information for all of your visitors.