Your customers are mobile; are you?

August 19, 2013 - Tags: Customers Technology

With more people using mobile devices, you need to decide how to best serve these potential customers. If not, you risk losing them to competitors who are designing for new technologies.

Here are three main approaches:

1. Responsive web design — provides a better viewing experience by adapting the layout of your site to a variety of mobile devices, and minimizes the need for resizing, panning and scrolling.

2. Separate "mobile-friendly" website — generally has less content than the full site and is designed specifically for mobile devices. The mobile site's URL may include the word "mobile" or "mobi". Mobile sites are generally adapted for users with touch screens. They can also take advantage of a device's GPS or a phone's "click-to-call" feature.

3. Mobile application ("app") — an independent software application designed to run on mobile devices. It will open even without access to the Internet, but it may require Internet access to perform many of the tasks. Unlike mobile websites, apps can access all of the unique features of the mobile device.

What you choose will depend on your audience and what you want to accomplish. If you're designing something that works like a computer program — a game, for example — or involves complex features and gestures, you'll likely want to go with a mobile app. If you simply want greater ease of use for your mobile clients, the other approaches may work better.

What you can do will depend on your available budget and your access to design and development services. Responsive sites are the least expensive of the three approaches, while mobile sites and apps are generally more expensive because they require more work.

Also keep in mind that mobile apps are compatible with specific operating systems. You may need to create separate apps for each platform. Apps also need to be downloaded and then updated. They can be short-lived if the novelty wears off and the user deletes them.

Whatever you decide, remember that technology is always changing, and as your business grows and changes, you'll have opportunities to adapt accordingly.

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