How to Decide Your Mobile Web Strategy

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What is the one thing you never leave home without, that you carry around with you all the time and keep within reach even when you’re asleep?

For me, it’s my smart phone and I’m guessing it’s the same with most of you. The growing attachment we are developing towards our mobile devices (and wearables) is apparent. Having a strong mobile web strategy should be an integral part of future proofing your web designs and sites.

The first thing that comes to mind when we hear "mobile web", is responsive design and the plethora of tools and frameworks that make it possible. Some simply scale down the desktop site. That’s not a mobile web strategy. That’s a band-aid, a stop-gap arrangement to make the best of the situation, with the least effort. But this misses the whole point of mobile – delivering an exquisite user experience, on the go. It’s time to move the focus of mobile web strategy away from responsive web tools and back to users.

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I think this article is too dismissive of well-conceived responsive development, especially with recent advancements in CSS.

For instance: “HTML markup decides the order in which the web page is rendered.” Well, not with flexbox.

“On a desktop, you want the menu at the top, easily visible and accessible, so that the user can navigate easily. On a mobile device, being able to see and access real content first beats being able to navigate to other pages. So you don’t want to load your menu first. It’d be better to have a collapsed or simplified menu at the bottom of the screen.” Um, which is pretty much what the overwhelming majority of responsive sites in fact do.

“Take media. Even if you use CSS or JavaScript to resize images, usually you end up loading the larger image first and then scaling it down.” Only if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I can understand and accept the arguments from user experience: there are cases where you may genuinely have a different target for a mobile site. But instead of throwing out arguments based on poor implementation (which can be overcome by a good front end developer), I suggest it would be more helpful to focus on the real issues.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, emphatikkmedia. Like any other tool or concept, responsive development has its own place. This is just to emphasize that RWD is not a panacea for all mobile sites and should not be treated as such. Mobile web strategy should instead be focused on providing the right kind of experience to mobile users. If that’s best achieved through RWD, great.

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