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Responsive Web Development: The Small Screen and the Big Picture

Denver Web DevelopmentIt is a common sight today, people almost everywhere are fixated on their smartphone screens. In fact, the Pew Research Center estimates that 57% of American adults use their cell phones to go online. For businesses and web designers, this means that a mobile strategy must be part every website project.

When considering web development, think about how your website looks on a smartphone. People on the move have little patience for the constant scrolling and resizing that many static websites require when viewed on a small screen. If your site is not easy to browse on cellphones and tablets you will quickly lose visitors. Mobile users will quickly become frustrated and simply move on to another website.

There are currently two approaches for making websites mobile friendly: Responsive web development and design is an attempt to make one website operate the same across all devices. Mobile Websites create a separate website just for mobile devices, but responsive design websites create five different variations to fit the different devices. 

Responsive Web Design

In a responsive website, your main website is designed to adapt automatically to the screen size of the device being used to view it. Page elements, such as text boxes, images and sidebars automatically adjust position and resize to ensure content is always adequately displayed. Horizontal scrolling and zooming are eliminated with this approach. Buttons and menus are easily seen and selected. Vertical scrolling is still necessary, however, to view content that is repositioned down the page.

Mobile Website

This is a separate website with its own design and URL. When a cellphone or tablet user enters your main URL, they are redirected to the mobile site. Mobile sites are a stripped down design showing only the essentials, making the site easier to view in a small format and faster to load. Different media is sometimes used to optimize the user experience, but the emphasis is on simplicity.

Mobile websites require the expense of creating a dual site. Updates and changes also need to be done on both websites to ensure continuity.

Whichever approach is best for your website will depend a lot on they type of business and the way in which you want to present it. If you want all of your website to be presented on every device, then responsive design is probably the way to go. If all that is needed is for people who are mobile to find out who you are and where you are located, mobile design may be the best choice. Regardless of which style you decide to use, mobile internet is here to stay.


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