Mobile or responsive? It's all about user experience...
Posted by Marco Barbieri, Account Manager at ORM on 06/02/2013
Follow Marco on Twitter
In our most recent post we looked at the digital trends expected to make it big in 2013. Among those, the head of Strategy & Insight at ORM highlighted the importance of Design ROI and its impact on digital marketing.
There is no doubt that delivering a great user experience will help promote your products and services, but given we are living in an ever-evolving, multi-channel and cross-platform world, good design needs to work on your customers' touchpoint of choice, which today is often mobile first. And so, just as content needs to differentiate from channel to channel (just think about the different tone of voice you use on your website, blog and twitter), the experience you provide needs to work on multiple screen sizes and quality.
And so often clients come to us asking for the best solution to make their content work harder across multiple platforms.
There are basically two options when building/redesigning a website:
1) A responsive website changes its layout depending on the viewer’s screen to provide all your website's content on all platforms (desktop, mobile and tablet):
Smashing Magazine is a beautiful example of text and image heavy responsive website: the layout adjusts to different screen sizes making sure the most relevant content is pushed in front of the viewer. Articles are their key content so this was the only feasible solution for them: Their mobile audience is not looking for a different experience - they are there to find out news on digital trends and products in a visual and intuitive way.
2) A mobile website is context specific: it focuses on supporting core mobile relevant tasks and does not replicate all of the desktop website content, such as this site:
National Rail opted for a mobile website and the reason is quite simple. Users accessing the desktop website are presented with a vast amount of content, such as "offers", "attraction deals", "rail maps" and many other related services. However, the mobile visitor is likely to be looking for some straightforward travel information and so is only presented with 4 main call to actions: "Journey Planner", "Live Departure Boards", "Changes to Train Times" and "Get me home". Those who want to access the full site can do so if they are looking for more in-depth info.
So which way to go?
Unfortunately there is no straight answer to whether mobile or responsive is best for a particular client. There is a lot of talk about responsiveness, and as impressive as it looks, it is not always the ideal approach for everyone. Still, we are going give you some recommendations, but to do this you'll need to answer some questions about your website's usage.
Your audience comes first...
Who visits your website?
Are they likely to access your website via a mobile device?
Analytics and research will help you to get a better picture of who your users are and what the website context of use is. You will discover that the needs and ways of interacting on mobiles and tablets are quite different from the desktop experience.
...then the context...
Is a mobile visitor looking for the same content as a desktop visitor?
The context of use is key. Items of secondary relevance on desktop can be more relevant to mobile users and should therefore be made more prominent.
...and your content
What products and services you are providing?
Does imagery play an important role in showcasing your offer?
And copy? Are text heavy pages a must?
An internal analysis of your business case will clarify the key content that needs to appear on mobile. While people tend to assume that content needs to be consistent across the whole online company presence, it is often the case that long descriptions, case studies or galleries are not so relevant for mobile users. This obviously depends on the product/service you are offering.
This should give you a good starting point to analyse your company needs.
Hopefully this gave you some food for thought to start a conversation about your digital presence in a multi-platform world.
We will touch again on mobile soon…..
Howard Vickridge on February 14, 2013
Got here via your twitter comment to @ihowie. Thanks for the article - educated me on what responsive and adaptive mean in web context. It's not my field, but I was simply curious. Enjoy the day. I'm @somuchsilly .