Mobile optimised web sites development
I think it would not be a big surprise for you if I say that browsing web-sites from a mobile devices is a big trend now. Started a few years ago when affordable smartphones and tablets appeared on the market, this only destined to continue and grow for many years. Yet the most of the web-sites (even some big names!) are still optimised only for good old desktops with conventional displays.
Does it really matter for your business?
It depends. The best way to understand the situation is to use some analytics software, like Google Analytics, and make a simple report on how many users come to your site from a mobile device (smartphone and tablet being the obvious options). If the share of visits from mobile devices is considerable and, what is more important, growing - then the answer is probably yes, it does matter much to your business.
Second factor is the industry you're in and type of products you offer. Let's take news and general media for example. Even today they already have nearly third of the traffic coming from mobiles - have you noticed recently people reading news/magazines from their devices? On the other end of the spectrum are the conservative B2B industries with a lot of technical information that usually is consumed in the office using hi-spec desktop computer. If you fall into this group, you might not benefit much from having a mobile version of the web-site.
Most of the businesses though are somewhere in the middle. They may not feel the urgent need to convert website to mobile, but this is only a matter of time. And why wait - you could stay ahead of the competitors and win some more market share!
Understand the technology
Mobile friendly websites come in different flavours. Usually the options are:
- Make a full-blown mobile app for such platforms as iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android
- Make a completely different version of site for mobile devices and put it on different domain (e.g. http://m.mysite.com).
- Use a so-called responsive web-design that will basically suit (or try to suit) any kind of device and platform.
Each option has its own application, however in case of small and medium business web-site usually responsive web-design provides the best value for money. Simply because it's not tied to any particular platform or device and does not require constant re-makes for each and every mobile phone release.
How does responsive web design work?
Think about it as of the simple web-page, but with an additional rules that dictate the browser (either desktop, tablet or mobile - any modern web-browser!) to change the layout depending on the screen size. You have a extra large screen - here's the additional content for your use! Medium size laptop - no problem, here's the optimised version. Tablet - ok, now we need to reposition certain elements to make them all visible without scrolling. Smartphone - cut everything except for the most important things and provide mobile navigation.
Want to see it in action? Try opening this site in desktop, tablet or mobile and you'll see the difference. Alternatively you can resize your browser now.
What if I already have non-mobile web-site?
No worries, most customers do. The key here is to start thinking with regards not only to the browser (remember these optimisations for IE or FireFox?), but also to the screen size. What kind of information and how should we present to tablet or smartphone users? Apart from that it's up to the web developer you outsource to make all the programming.
Would that be easier to drop existing design and take some mobile template?
Yes, there are a great deal of mobile website templates out there and usually this is the most affordable web-design. It won't be unique to you, but if your budget is very tight, I would go for that option. You probably still need some freelance web designer or developer to install and customise that template.
How much does this mobile web development cost?
It depends on many factors and it's not possible to provide a figure without details from your side. However, on average converting medium sized corporate site from non-mobile friendly to mobile optimised costs between mid-hundreds to low thousands. Mobilisation of e-commerce or rich media sites usually takes more than that.
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Alex’s expertise in developing and maintaining web applications has been invaluable to the College – J. Wittersheim, Director of Information Management and Funding, Bury College