In many conversation I have with customers around the globe, the most common reasons to choose a mobile website or even an Apple or Android apps versus a responsive web sites are centered around the complexity of the current website, the need of a complete overhaul of the current website and the complexity to design a one fit all solution for all hardware devices out there.
So is it fair to say that responsive web designs are not for complex websites and only applies to websites that have a limited number of pages or data?
In recent years, one of the biggest movements in web development has been the push towards responsive web design. It allows your website to be viewed on an almost infinite number of hardware devices and screen sizes, all while allowing you to control the message, design, and user experience that you want to deliver to your customers. But is it a viable solution for all customers. My answer is YES, although in a very different way depending on your business and it’s online ambitions.
I will take a couple of examples to make this clear and understandable;
First is a rather small boutique resort in Cebu, the Philippines. They had a do-it-yourselves approach before and were considering an overhaul of their website including a mobile presence. Given the amount of data and the functionality of the previous website, a responsive design was the most adequate solution for them. They were able to get a premium and custom made design, together with a booking form and a couple of well designed call for action buttons resulting in a cool looking website Granada Beach House. The entire site loads as a one pager on all devices and is perfectly readable on desktops, tablets and smartphones. Customers can call or book online straight from their smartphones. With the help of the owners of the resort, Keira and Jacques we managed to complete the site in 3 weeks at a cost of around $2,000. Cost is kept at a reasonable price with the use of a CMS platform especially developed to reduce the development and implementation time of RESPONSIVE and PARALLAX web designs.
Second is a start up project for a fitness competition business in Atlanta, Tampa, Charlotte and recently Houston. Since the site requires a lot of interaction with coaches, clients and advertisers, a hybrid approach was taken. The home page was done in a responsive design, a bit within the same concept as in the first example and with the same results – see for yourselves at HEALTHPORT. The more complex data part and the E-commerce part were done in a more traditional way, with a separate design for desktop and mobile, as you can see in ATLANTA, Tampa or Charlotte. This project done from scratch took eight weeks from start to finish and was budgeted around $10,000. It gives you an example that even in a more heavy application, responsive designs can play a big part in the overall design and mobile solution of an online business.
Third is a project for a media company in Shanghai, China. The company has a good working main website designed a couple of years ago and wanted some additional exposure for their advertisers for tablets and smartphones. A complete overhaul of the site would be a lengthy and costly exercise. Therefore the customer took the option to leave the desktop website as is SBR CHINA and focus on the tablet and smartphone viewers with a subset of the data that is on the main website and focus on the goals set, namely get exposure for the advertisers on mobile devices. The results of the approach can be seen on MOBILE. Where a complete overhaul could have taken around 6 months to finish, this approach took 10 weeks from start to finish and was costed out around the $5,000 mark. The ads are automated and appear at an interval set by the customer, and the different feeds are all optimized for mobile viewing. The SBR China approach can be taken by any company that is more data intensive or that has applications that only work on desktops. Decide on a set of different goals for mobile, and focus on the content that you will be able to update regularly and focus on the content that viewers might likely look for on the go.
Three very different businesses in size, complexity, geography and business model, but all three have been convinced that the responsive web design approach is the way to go, be it different in each of the cases.
I wrote a similar blog MOBILE VS NATIVE APPS about 2 years ago, it was very interesting for myself to read it back as a background for this blog.