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In an era when mobile internet access has overtaken desktop browsing, businesses must adapt their strategies and harness the power of mobile to ensure effective communication with their consumers, whether that’s through a responsive site, an app or other Mobile Solutions. Our experienced team of software developers can help you decide which strategy is best for your business, helping you make the most of mobile internet.

Mobile Friendly Website Designs

Fluid, responsive, adaptive. You’ve probably come across a few of these terms before but are perhaps still unsure of what they actually mean. Put simply, each of these refers to a different type of page design that can be used when building a mobile friendly site and each name describes how the layout responds when the page is viewed in different browser widths.

Fluid Design

This type of design typically uses percentages instead of pixels to define the width, allowing the browser to fluidly scale the web page up and down.

A fluid layout normally fills the width of the page regardless of the browser size. Although easier to implement than a responsive layout, this design does have its drawbacks, particularly in terms of page rendering on very large or very small browser widths. For example, if the browser is too wide it may stretch content too much. On the other hand, if it is too small, content may appear overcrowded.


Adaptive Design

Using media queries (a CSS3 module which allows content rendering to adapt to conditions such as screen resolution) an adaptive site detects specific device sizes and adjusts the content layout accordingly.

This design uses fixed units like pixels rather than percentages (like a fluid design) to define specific breakpoints for various devices. Unlike the fluid design which scales up and down fluidly, an adaptive design uses fixed, predetermined page layouts for each device type meaning you need to design multiple layouts for each of the devices you wish to target; one for an iPad, another for an iPhone, and so on. With the number manufacturers continually improving and changing devices, the number and type of devices you need to consider is a moving target which can pose a setback for adaptive design websites.


Responsive Design

Built on a fluid grid, responsive websites use CSS media queries which allow content rendering to fluidly change and respond to fit any screen or device size based on predetermined breakpoints (the point at which content will respond to provide the user with the best possible layout).

In this way, the design combines the principles of both fluid and adaptive layouts. As with a fluid design, if the browser increases or decreases in width, a responsive layout will reorganise content to accommodate screen size, however, if this extends beyond the widths defined by the breakpoints, the layout will alter more drastically to accommodate a wide or narrow width. Responsive websites are often built using a mobile first approach whereby the mobile layout is designed first and subsequently expanded to fit a wider browser on tablets and desktops. In general, expanding a mobile layout is easier than simplifying a large layout for mobile devices.


Mobile Sites

Dedicated mobile websites are becoming increasingly less popular as mobile evolves. In this design, users browsing the web on a mobile device are redirected to a different, ‘mobile’ version of the main website, which often offers the option to link back to the full site.

As such, there are two versions of the site on the web, usually with different URLs, for example for the mobile site and for the desktop site. Mobile sites typically display specially selected content and unique pages that are specifically tailored to the mobile user. This often means a slimmer a design which is visually simpler and easier to navigate than the desktop version. However, as a result, mobile users can only access a limited amount of information compared to that displayed on the desktop site. Having two versions of a website also means developing two SEO strategies and maintaining two versions of content on the web, effectively doubling the work associated with website management.


Mobile Apps

In some cases, such as for news, game, or ecommerce websites, a mobile app can be a more effective way of reaching and catering to the needs of the mobile user. Our team of application developers  can advise you on the most suitable and cost-effective solution for your strategy and even help you implement it.

Our services include iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, J2ME/J2EE, Symbian, SIM Toolkit/Java Card, HTML Cross Platform, porting web applications to mobile platforms, value added services development and integration.

Native Apps

Native apps are designed to run in the absence of a network connection and are accessed through icons on the device home screen.

They are installed through an app store, e.g. Google Play or Apple’s App Store and can take full advantage of all the features on the device, such as the camera, GPS, compass, contacts etc. Native apps are ideal for linear processes and tools with their one-click access, personalised user experience, data handling capabilities, and fast performance.


Web Apps

Web apps are effectively websites that look and feel like native apps but are not implemented as such. They are run by the device browser and are accessed in the same way as a web page.

Often the objective of a web app is to encourage users to install a native app by allowing the user to ‘try before they buy’ without the need to install it on their device. Web apps are often easier to maintain than native apps and can be made compatible with any older mobile device. However, unlike the native app, they have a limited ability to access a device’s features, are internet dependent, and providing support for different mobile browsers can be difficult.


Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps combine elements of both native and web apps and must be available when users are both connected and disconnected from internet.

As such, they are integrated into both the local file system and a set of cloud-based web services and can function whether or not the device is connected. Like native apps, hybrid apps have fast performance capabilities and one-click access but have the added benefit of an embedded browser to improve access to dynamic online content.


What’s the best mobile strategy for you?

If you’re thinking about making the most of mobile and are wondering what the best strategy might be for your business, we’re here and happy to talk things through with you.