Best way to redirect mobile traffic to your mobile website version?


What about something that detects mobile browsers, but instead of redirecting them automatically, it causes a simple “Click/touch Here For Mobile Version” banner/link to show at the very top of the page ?

Then at the bottom of the page in the mobile version, include a link back to the desktop version.

Joebert, congratulations on being the only person I’ve seen around here who has actually given a sensible recommendation based on unobtrusive device catering. Whenever most people find a detect script, they immediately try and force their users to do whatever they think is right thereby throwing good usability out of the window (on the feeble justification that somehow a simple interface makes up for the lack of choice). It’s much better to acknowledge and offer a solution (note: solution doesn’t include suggestions of getting a better browser or device!) in preference to blindly force feeding design. :slight_smile:

Sorry, but I do not agree at all with the options mentioned in this thread that say we should force users to click a link in order to see the mobile version of a site. Why would you want to add any additional clicks between the user and the content?

As a mobile user and web developer, if I visit a site on my Droid and it isn’t mobile-friendly, I assume (usually correctly) that the site doesn’t have a mobile version. I will therefore not waste any time looking for a “show me the mobile” link. I fully expect the mobile version of a site to appear by default when I visit the site on my phone.

As for the assertion that most sites will work fine on mobile devices without any issues, I can only guess that anyone who thinks so must not use a mobile browser. Unless, of course, you count Flash non-support or having to scroll back and forth horizontally as non-issues.

If the visitor is on a mobile device, show them the mobile version by default. Of course, let them choose to see the full version if they want.

Here is what Jakob Nielsen has to say on the subject at

“…users often had trouble getting to mobile sites, even when companies offered them. The best approach is to auto-sense users’ devices and auto-forward mobile users to the mobile site (even if they’re using a high-end phone). You should also offer clear links from the desktop site to the mobile site, as well as a link back to the full site.”

I’ve been reading this thread with interest but I have to say I believe the problem is not as straightforward as these posts suggest. Surely it’s necessary to take into consideration the content of the home / landing page (and other pages) when deciding on how to handle mobile visitors?

If your site is reasonably lightweight design; small amount of copy, small images, no flash or javascript then send mobile users straight to it.

If you have large images, reams of copy, flash, javascript etc., anything which may detrimentally affect the user experience on a mobile platform, then send them to a trimmed down mobile version.

You should always provide users with the option to swap between the sites via a link, banner, or whatever.

Since technology progresses quickly and every site’s user base behaves slightly differently from the next, the sensible move would be to monitor the user behavior on an ongoing basis, looking at the number of users who swap between the sites along with their final viewing choice and of course the platform they are using. Then you will be able to continually assess how successful your set up is and tweak it as necessary as technology / behaviors change.

It will eventually come to the point where you can phase out the mobile site altogether.

I don’t think it’s providing additional clicks between the user and the content, the extra click is to jump from the full experience to a reduced experience. While your expectations might see you wanting to see the reduced version by default, the problem with mobile sites are that often the manufacturers of the design provide a lesser experience (rather than a more optimized one) by removing certain features or by breaking trends the end-user expects. By offering that choice (in a way that is highly visible) you can eliminate the issue. An example I have seen is where if a mobile device is detected, a JavaScript alert prompt is issued (which displays on the mobile device as a popup message within the browser) in which you can say a mobile version is available and offer them the opportunity to pick the experience they prefer. Simply forcing them into an unknown environment is NOT the ideal solution, no matter how you try and sell it. This is one of those cases where I disagree with Nielsen (but agree with his principles), I would much prefer to give the end-user a choice than to assume their preference and force them to backtrack.

I agree entirely, but as things currently stand, mobile experiences are in almost all cases seriously held back in their functionality (not through lack of browser support but through false assumption on behalf of the developer). I therefore maintain the need to have both sites readily available for the end user - even if the method of providing that access is from one site to another. Too many designers dumb down their work because they don’t understand the visitor. :slight_smile:

There’s quite a few sites I visit regularly take the ‘automatic with optional full site approach’ including this one.

The only issue I have with this scenario is when (in most cases) the link to the full experience is tiny and hidden away, if the site doesn’t remember the choice if I select full site, and in many cases the decisions of what content to prune for the mobile experience prove too limiting forcing a switch to the full site.

I definitely think a server-side solution is the best approach but it’s not always possible to apply so you could find helpful using a JS script. I wrote a script that redirects the user to the mobile version of the site, you can find the source here:

and you can find more details in one of my articles: