Since mobile has become the norm, it’s important to make sure that websites are optimized for mobile; the user experience on a mobile device should the same if not better, than on a computer. Before choosing the type of mobile site that would suit your business, it’s important to know the differences between the available options. Mobile websites are placed in the following categories:
- Mobile Friendly: This is usually the generic default to most websites. The website will look the exact same on mobile as it would on a computer. The website will operate fine but the user experience is inadequate; text will be small, hard to read and users will have to pinch/zoom to see parts of the site. Although this is not ideal, users will be able to navigate the website with some inconveniences.
- Adaptive: An adaptive design will re-arrange your site based on predefined screen sizes (mobile, tablet and desktop) by “re-stacking” visual elements. There will generally not be any changes to your site apart from the content being shifted to better fit the size of the screen.
- Responsive: A responsive website analyzes the specific device and changes the content to fit. The website is always checking for the dimensions of the device and will shift the content based on the screen (or window) size. If you were browsing a responsive site on a computer and you changed the window size the website would be changing at the exact same time.
- Experience: An experience mobile site is specifically formatted for each device. Depending on the device you are using, you could be seeing content formatted completely different, content could disappear or new content could be added. Experience websites are developed primarily for mobile.
- Native: Native websites are essentially apps. Usually these will be built separate from the website but will be redirected to and offered when on mobile. Apps allow for a lot of interactivity that is not available on websites. Native websites/apps usually serve a specific purpose and are a standalone addition that will complement your website.
Although some of these website models slightly differ, they all have a specific use that can benefit your business when used properly. Think of your target audience. Who is visiting your website? Are they primarily visiting on mobile or desktop? Does your demographic and content call for a complex mobile site?