Mobile Websites

Hi all,

Happy Holidays.

Ok, I’m not sure if this goes here, or in the Accessibility/UI forum.

I’m looking to partner up with someone who is an expert at creating a mobile site from the Internet site & I’m in discussions with one person who is offering the service (he’s not the coder or GWD) & he’s saying that the mobile site needs it’s own seperate hosting, that you can’t use your Internet hosting.

Is that true?

I thought the code knows the surfer is using a mobile device & then brings up the mobile version.

I guess I need to learn more about this.


It may depend on how the mobile version of the site is created, but often the mobile version sits on the same server. There are some services out there where you can create a separate mobile site and host it separately, but in a lot of cases, the site’s server detects the type of device that’s making the request and serves up the appropriate content based on that.

Of course, another option is to serve up the one same site to all devices, and merely change the styling based on the device with @media queries. That’s popular right now, and at the heart of the whole ‘responsive design’ movement. It depends on the site which is the best option.

Well that’s what I assumed coders did (have it detect the device), just like the site design should have code that detects the size of the monitor & resizes accordingly.

Anyone on here who does these conversions who can say what the norm is?

Thanks for your info Ralph.



The person you have been talking to is a few years behind the times…

Once upon a time it was proper to build very simple mobile sites in parallel to regular websites. They sometimes had different domain names like and - but that was back in the day when the Blackberry was king :rolleyes:

On modern handheld devices like iPhones and Android phones, you will be better off with a responsive design. Such designs also work for tablets, and if done right they will also work well for whatever new device they come out with next year.

There is one big EXCEPT here: If your site is intended for people in developing countries where they still use the older simpler phones to access the net, then you will want a seperate simple mobile-only site for them.

I hope this helps :slight_smile:

There are a few instances where choosing a separate mobile site may be the better option. Whether or not the OP’s site falls into that category, we cannot tell because content is the primary factor and ultimately dictates which technique is the most sensible approach for the OP’s particular scenario.

Some questions to consider:

a) What is my content?
b) Are there instances where people can interact with the content?
c) Is it necessary for the content to be rearranged on small and/or medium-sized devices?
d) Which methodology/implementation fulfills these (and other) requirements best? The answer may be a responsive or adaptive design, but the solution might as well be a separate mobile site rather than a device-agnostic responsive/adaptive approach.

Some articles:

Ok, I’m sorry if I didn’t make myself clear. This has nothing to do with my site, but everyone’s site. I’m partnering up with them to offer this service.

That Smashing Magazine article was VERY VERY good although I don’t have time to skim it all.

He complains about a long page of content on the mobile device being a no no & then he provides us with a page a mile long LOL (Do what I say, not what I do LOL) although it’s probably not his site as he’s just the writer.

VERY good information, even when it relates to why one page sales letters don’t work online anymore & I’m talking on PC sites, not even just mobile.

I don’t think that the answer about whether it needs to be hosted on a different server/hosting company was ever addressed. I guess it’s obvious it’s not needed if the site detects the mobile device in question, but even if it’s a separate URL does it have to be hosted separately?

Also, why can’t you have it so it detects that it’s a mobile device & then switches to another URL instead of just displaying a different site with a different set of URLs, images, etc. on the same page. I assume the switching to a different URL could be done from a coding standpoint, no?

Thanks to all. This is really helpful in understanding what is going on when it comes to doing these conversions. It looks like a lot of guys offering this conversion service either are clueless, or are just trying to rip people off.

If you know of any people who are really good at this service & especially know what they are talking about like Brad Frost, that would be great.



kohoutek’s advice is good.

Can you share a link to the type of website you want to make more mobile friendly?

Only then can we suggest an approach that fits.

If you are offering a service that allows users to create and host their sites on your platform, then I’m not sure there’s a one-fits-all kind of solution.

The safest way, imo, would be to apply the “mobile-first” [URL=“”]approach. [URL=“”]You’ll not make everyone happy, but at least you can make sure that a site is device-agnostic and works decently on any device. You could offer standard template sets that accomodate different needs. This really is a very complex topic and whatever is suggested may or may not apply to what you are planning on offering.

As for long pages and them being a problem or not. That, too, depends. There is no definitive, no absolute answer or solution to any of these problems because they are relatively new and largely dependent on a site’s goal, a site’s content, and its audience.

Hosting on a different server. Again, it depends. If you have a high-traffic site and you have chosen to create a separate mobile site, then it indeed can make sense to host it on a different server for better performance. You could use something like a CDN (Content Distribution Network). Here’s an article that briefly touches on the subject. There are more informative articles out there, but I’m pressed for time. The article gives you a good idea on the advantages of using such an approach, if not for a separate mobile site, then for media, ie images, scripts and the like.

And you can indeed implement detection methods and serve different URLs to different devices on the same server and for the same site, e.g. by redirecting URLs. You can do it client-side or server-side. There isn’t a perfect solution, but there are quite a few implementation possibilites.
See an example of how it can be done here:

No, I’m not offering anything. I’ll repeat again, I’m looking to partner up with someone who takes a client’s site & creates a mobile version of it. I need to know what’s going on in this niche so I partner with the right person.

Nothing to do with hosting.

The reason I asked about hosting, is this guy wants to charge companies $125/month to host their newly conformed mobile site. A service he wants to offer to conform their PC site to mobile. I was confused as to why hosting was even needed, so I came on here to ask.

I’ll have to look at the other sites you gave me.


P.S. Greg, please re-read what I said. Thank you

The same rules apply with the difference that, as you know your audience and know your content, you can optimize your site to serve the best possible content structure to as many people on different devices possible.

So, indeed your last question is the most important one (who to team-up with), because that person will need to help you form these decisions based on the criteria your site poses. I have no recommendation. Any professional designer/developer who is up-to-date on the subject of mobile/responsive/adaptive design and the various implementations could fit the bill.

There are a lot of people out there claiming to do just this mobile transformation. They don’t do regular sites, just this secondary site just for mobile devices.

I find that a very strange service to offer and recommend against it. It sounds unprofessional because there are so many factors that play a role in how you approach it and just converting a site that was initially designed for desktops can’t “just” be converted into a mobile site. It doesn’t make sense to me, but then again, I wouldn’t want to slam anyone’s service without knowing what exactly they do, but if it’s just as you describe, I’d say, stay away from that.

Hmm, okay, see I didn’t know this before.

[font=verdana]That doesn’t mean they’re doing the right thing. There are plenty of companies out there claiming to do just SEO, but I wouldn’t buy a paper bag from them. (I’m not saying they are not doing the right thing either).

To do a good job, you need to tailor the process to the site and its intended audience. Different sites will need a different approach. In some cases, it will be about creating a separate cut-down site that prioritises the kind of information or service that people will want when on the move. In other cases, the best approach would be to repackage the full content either by re-templating it into a lighter page designed for a small screen or simply using responsive CSS to format the full site to appropriate sizes. All of those approaches have their plus points and their downsides – there often is no right or wrong answer, but there may be reasons why one will be more effective on one site, and another will be more effective on another site.

If these people who are offering the mobile-conversion process are taking the time to investigate and analyse the site’s structure, audience and usage patterns, and are then developing at least a semi-bespoke model for mobile conversion then that’s all well and good. If they are just churning every site through the same automated cookie-cutter process then the odds are that they are simply ripping their customers off with a sub-standard product.

Apart from the case of using a CDN that kohoutek suggested, I can’t see any reason why you would want separate hosting for a mobile site – it’s additional cost and complication for no benefit, and it runs the risk of confusing search engines so that they don’t realise they are looking at two variations of the same site.[/font]

Oh I know what the industry is like which is exactly why I’m on here trying to find out the dos & don’ts so I can somehow screen.

Just like I asked on another forum what questions to ask of SEOers since I’m also looking to partner with one of those & I didn’t get much of a response. I should go bring that thread back up, as sometimes I don’t get the e-mail that people have responded.

For me the difficulty is in always figuring out how to ask the question so I’m not giving the answer away, but I’ll know right away if they are BSers.

depending on the complexity of the site and functions, i’d say just put the mobile site on a subdomain of the main hosting account. e.g. I’d also go for an alternative stylesheet first choice if you do not require any seperate features. Thus avoiding any duplicate content issues. The bbc is who you want to be emulating, they do things brilliantly.

Hi AJ,

So just changing the CSS means you avoid duplicate content? I thought hte text is what determines that, not the coding.

I went to the BBC’s site, but of course there’s no way for me to see their site via a mobile device. Isn’t there a site that allows you to test to see what the site looks like?



If you serve up two separate pages (eg and then Google sees them as two separate pages, and so you run the risk of the dreaded duplicate content problem diluting the strength of the two pages (although there are ways to tell Google that one is a mobile version and the other is a desktop version of the same page). But if you only have and then you layer it with either styles.css or mobile.css, there’s only one page there, so there’s no risk of it being seen as duplicate content.

I went to the BBC’s site, but of course there’s no way for me to see their site via a mobile device. Isn’t there a site that allows you to test to see what the site looks like?

You can download an emulator for Opera Mini (or is it Opera Mobile? One of them, anyway) on a PC, which allows you to see and interact with websites in roughly the same way as a mobile device.[/font]

Ok, so the style sheet tells the device it’s mobile, but it’s still the same page?

But usually mobile sites have less content, navs, etc., so how would that work? The CSS knows to provide less content?

Is that Opera as in the browser or it’s just named “Opera”?



You would have two (or more) stylesheets, and each one would identify what type of user-agent should use it. So the device says “I’m a handheld, so I’ll look at mobile.css” or “I’m a desktop with a full size screen, so I’ll look at normal.css”. And then in the mobile stylesheet, you’ll usually find liberal use of display:none; to hide the things that want to be hidden from mobile users.

Is that Opera as in the browser or it’s just named “Opera”?

Opera (the browser company) make two browsers aimed at handheld devices, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, which work in slightly different ways. It is these (one or both, not sure) that you can get PC emulators for.[/font]