When designing websites today it is quite obvious to all of us that sites must consider being accessed by mobile devices such as tablets and phones. This trend isn’t going anywhere, but has much more to consider than just the size of the screen. A growing trend is to design for these types of devices first and then understand those that are still using traditional desktops.

The biggest issue for any design to consider is how to best serve the content efficiently for each platform. The choices available to the designer is traditional website design, mobile website design, and mobile apps that could provide some functionality. Typically there is a combination of 2 or more of these considerations. The trick is to make choices which match your audience with consideration that the mobile access will continue to grow.

The answer to some of these concerns can be found in the latest programming capabilities that most common browsers have already adopted with the developed HTML5 standards. These new standards allow for “responsive design”. The concept of responsive design is to show a site that is geared specifically to the size of the users screen size and resolution. The great thing is that one design and one site can be used to serve all platforms.

For the business owner, keep reading so you know what questions to ask your web designer to see if they are best prepared to continue to support you. First and foremost understand that HTML5 is a new standard. The same structures that were possibly designed in creating your current site likely did not use these if it is more than 2 years old. Even then it would have been state-of-the-art as many browsers did not support it at that time. If you look at the code of your site and you see a lot of “table” versus “div” then you are likely in this boat. Ask you programmer if they are familiar with responsive design.

The use of div didn’t start with HTML5 so it is only an indicator. The use of the div tags is heavily used with the use of CSS to control the flow and structure of the website. It is the use of CSS that brings the uniformity to the site, but also the variance based on “break points”. These break points are at what points in screen size should additional attributes be considered. For screen sizes smaller than 480 pixels for example may hide some graphics or change menu options to fill the screen as this is likely a phone accessing your website. this allows for one website to manage all appearances of your website.

Is there a downside? There are two primary downsides from the business perspective – time to test and the requirement for Internet connectivity. Both are easily overcome in today’s world. Time to test is for everyone involved. As an owner don’t rely solely on your designer. Use multiple devices and browsers to test with. This is somewhat easy to do. With responsive design you can also test with a desktop browser. Control the browser by continuing to reduce the window size. You will see the break points as you get smaller. This shoul dbe what it will look like. Now use your personal phone and tablet to see if it looks the same.

The other issue is just a risk. If you choose to have one site the requirement will be that your user have Internet connectivity at all times. With 3G and the growth of 4G there is often ample coverage to much of the world. If you service areas where coverage is not to your satisfaction, this would be a real reason to also have a mobile app. This would allow for local uses without Internet access.

IT Liberty designs many of its new sites using responsive design. This website fully uses this technology as well as many of our others such as TatTales.com. You can see there how it hides graphics with smaller screen sizes, changes menu structure, stacks content for a single scrolling direction, and also hyperlinks phone numbers etc for easy calling. Please feel free to contact us today for questions on what it would take for your site to become “responsive” to your customers’ needs.