Mobile phones have been around for over 20 years now and internet enabled phones for at least the past 10 years (even longer if you count WAP phones).
Smartphones have really changed the way we browse online and with new devices like the Apple Watch & iPhone 7 just around the corner, the digital world has become more blurred with the physical than ever before.
So if you’re a business that is still failing to cater for mobile web users, you’re in for a shock if you haven’t checked your web stats for the past few months.
From the 21st April, 2015, Google the world’s largest search engine, updated their algorithm to actually penalise websites that fail to comply with their ‘mobile friendly’ test. – Test your website here
At Sparkstone Creative, we deliver websites with a ‘mobile-first’ approach. We’ve taken the knowledge that almost 60% of all online browsing is done on a smartphone or tablet device and used that information to decide that all our website should either be ‘Mobile Responsive’ or ‘Mobile Adaptive’.
It’s ok if these two different terms mean nothing to you and why should they? As a website user and consumer all you want (and all your customers want) is a seamless experience whether you are using a large screen desktop computer, or a small screen smartphone/tablet device. But for our designers and developers here at Sparkstone, these terms have a huge impact on the way we deliver web projects and for you as a client it can also have an effect on the amount your web project costs (not just for us to develop, but also for you to maintain after go-live).
Try the following websites on your desktop computer or tablet and then view it again on a smartphone device. Our recent website for MacCulloch & Wallis is completely responsive, with ‘break points’ for the most common screen sizes. The GJW Titmuss website on the other hand, uses an adaptive approach, delivering complementary but different experiences for desktop and mobile devices.
Example of a responsive website: https://www.macculloch-wallis.co.uk (re-size your browser window to see how it responds)
Example of an adaptive website: https://www.gjwtitmuss.co.uk (re-sizing your desktop browser has no effect, but you’ll see a different layout on a mobile device)
What is the difference between Responsive and Adaptive?
Put simply, a responsive website adapts to the screen size (or more accurately the browser window size) in which your are viewing the site. Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) developers define certain pixel dimensions (media queries) that trigger changes to the page layout. These changes can include everything from font sizes to text alignment and maximum object widths. These CSS media queries are also the most common way of switching from a horizontal page menu to the now commonplace ‘hamburger’ style menu icon, which is used to trigger a slide out menu from the left, right or top of the screen.
Developers use CSS to decide whether page content is shown or hidden on mobiles (‘display:block’ or ‘display:none’), but all of a page’s HTML content is loaded into the browser whether it is displayed or not.
Adaptive websites on the other hand, use mobile specific HTML to reduce the amount of content that is loaded on mobile devices. This technique delivers a more ‘app like’ experience for users as adaptive pages tend to load faster and are laid out specifically for smaller screens.
The decision about whether to go adaptive or responsive can also affect the way you maintain your website after go-live.
With Responsive websites, the content is the same across all devices (although some can be hidden using CSS), but Adaptive websites can offer a completely different content experience for users. This means that you have to create two versions of the same page and decide whether to write mobile specific text or include mobile specific images.
Why go mobile now?
Which ever method you opt for, you’ll be in Google’s good books if you ‘go mobile’ with your website. Google has announced they are “…experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal“, so we can assume this means that if your websites isn’t optimised for mobile, you could find yourself sliding down the search rankings pretty rapidly.
Aside from any search engine slide, you’ll also start to slip in your customers’ perceptions if you fail to keep up with competitors who are embracing mobile design practices. With more and more people shopping online or researching companies whilst on the move, your website needs to be as quick and easy to use on a mobile as it is on a 27 inch iMac.
You may not even need a new website
If your website was built within the last few years, you might not even need to replace it. We may be able adapt your existing website templates and CSS files to make them more mobile friendly (it’s exactly what we did on the Sparkstone Technology website). It’s a cost effective solution that can usually be achieved in just a few days, depending on the size of your website and how many page templates you use.
Why not call us now for a quote - 01489 795000
How can Sparkstone help?
Sparkstone Creative are one of the most technically advanced design agencies in the today.
Whilst many design companies are able to offer fantastic design talent for printed brochures and exhibition stands, there are few who truly understand the complexities of creating good User Experience (UX) across mobile and desktop devices.
Sparkstone Creative was formed as the creative arm of Sparkstone Technology, one of the UK’s leading providers of retail software applications, including EPOS, CRM, Stock Management and Ecommerce. So with our combined teams, we’re able to offer a service that covers all of the bases you might have on your list, but also the challenges that are only obvious when you have experience with the complete retail/marketing/technology picture.