Everyone Can Do Mobile... Just Not the Same Way

Nearly everyone in the Web industry has come to the realization that mobile is a big deal, and it is only getting bigger.

The influx of website owners looking to "go mobile," and quickly, is growing. This urgency is not groundless. It's imperative that businesses offer a mobile experience that allows anyone surfing the Internet from a mobile device (a growing number) to easily interact with their brand; but where to begin?

The problem - for all site owners and Web workers - - is that there are still a number of questions that remain regarding mobile Web design and development, and many don't seem to take the time to really explore the options, and find the one that will work best for them and their users. That's a shame, because it's equally as important to know why some options aren't a good fit, as it is to know which ones will work. Let's explore some of these different opportunities.

Mobile Frameworks

For large- or enterprise-level businesses that require a highly functional and dynamic digital presence, mobile Web frameworks offer tools for automating many of the tasks associated with Web development for the vast array of devices available today. Based on technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, which can be used on virtually any device, these frameworks are able to offer consistent cross-browser user interface-elements and widgets, boilerplate code abstractions and "wrappers" that provided access to native mobile operating system functionalities. However, these solutions are a bit more advanced than others, so it's not recommended for someone looking to take, say, their GeoCities site mobile.

Responsive Design

However, responsive design presents some crucial limitations. For instance, it relies heavily on CSS, and many mobile devices aren't compatible with CSS media queries. It can also take a major toll on load speeds and CPU and RAM usage, because it does not remove any code that may not be needed and downloads a full image to a device before resizing it to fit the screen. It also makes it harder to meet the needs of mobile devices (and users), as it can't account for mobile-specific features like gestures or geolocation.

Mobile Development Platforms

A mobile development platform, such as DudaMobile, FiddleFly or MoFuse, provides an easy, do-it-yourself solution to mobile website creation. These offerings let users, who already have a small blog or static website, quickly make their existing sites mobile-friendly in just a few simple steps. Using a basic template-driven, cut-and-paste approach, these services create a mobile version of a website that users can then customize (usually with drag-and-drop functionality) without any coding knowledge.

Unfortunately, the simplicity of these platforms also creates limitations in their capabilities, at least for website owners who want more advanced and dynamic functionality from their mobile presence. For this reason, these platforms are best suited for bloggers or smaller websites.

Decisions, Decisions...

Every website is unique and has needs that must to be met in order to offer a similar and useful mobile user experience. Many factors should be considered when deciding on the right approach for your website, which is why you should be aware of the different options, choose the most appropriate one for your website and find a service that can meet your needs and help you go mobile.