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OPLIN 4cast #392: Designing for mobile

Posted in 4cast

Converse shoesHow many times have we told you guys that mobile computing is important? (Looks like about one out of every ten 4casts.) So, if you have a website – and every library does – what’s the best way to design a mobile version of your site? At the moment, there seems to be three leading contenders for the right answer to this question. The oldest way is to build a separate mobile website tailored for smartphones, usually with the letter “m” prefixed to the URL (e.g., These days you hear a lot about responsive web design, in which the website is designed to automatically respond to the mobile device by rearranging the elements of the website to best advantage. And sometimes you hear a third possibility mentioned, usually called “adaptive” or “dynamic,” in which the website server detects the device and serves up a ready-made page for the correct screen size. Which is best? Responsive design currently seems to have the edge, but the decision is not unanimous.

  • How responsive design increases the results of your online marketing (Search Engine Watch | Kristi Hines)  “Responsive design allows users on any device – desktop, smartphone, or tablet – to have the same experience. Some businesses choose to go with a mobile-only and desktop-only experience, but the trouble with this is the lack of consistency between the two. People who make a purchase on the desktop site will have a completely different purchasing experience on their mobile. And the most troublesome issue is generally how a mobile-only design will not include every page that a visitor will want to see.”
  • Why responsive web design is the cornerstone to any mobile strategy (Business 2 Community | George Glover)  “Google has advocated for responsive web design and recommends it for mobile configuration with its application (app). The company further states that responsive web design is in fact the industry best practice. So why does Google advocate so insistently for responsive web design? It’s because these types of sites have only one URL and the same HTML, neither of which change regardless of the device being used.”
  • Report: Mobile “configuration” errors cause 68 pct. traffic loss (Search Engine Land | Greg Sterling)  “By ‘mobile configuration’ the company means responsive design, dynamic serving or dedicated mobile sites (separate URLs). BrightEdge found no significant general ranking difference among the three approaches.… Yet improperly configured mobile sites showed a much worse outcome: ‘an incorrectly implemented site resulted in a drop in smartphone rank by almost two positions (1.82 on average).’ That lower position translated into a 68 percent decline in traffic. In terms of configuration errors, BrightEdge said responsive had none (which makes sense). Dynamic serving saw a 30 percent error rate. But separate URLs (dedicated mobile sites) saw a massive 72 percent configuration error rate.”
  • Responsive design vs. mobile websites: And the winner is… (iMedia Connection | Brandt Dainow)  “Responsive design rarely provides a best-of-breed solution for the mobile user, while mobile websites make sharing elements difficult. It seems to me the solution to this is to use ‘adaptive design.’ Under an adaptive design system, the server works out what type of device is connecting and serves a combination of shared and unique elements. For example, it might use the same content for all devices, but use different artwork for smaller screens.”

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