Often, a client may already have a desktop site which they are now looking to optimize for mobile device surfing. To begin the process, we need to define the scale for the mobile site: Will the mobile site provide the same or similar content as offered on the web? Or will the mobile site offer just a summarized content with links to the desktop site for more information?
While smaller scale mobile sites may be faster to develop, there is now a clear sift towards approaching mobile users with a similar respect and seriousness as the desktop users. This means that the mobile platform offers similar scale of the content as the desktop versions, with proper content development and optimizations for mobile viewing.
Today, mobile sites are no longer secondary optional versions of the desktop site but independently relevant and important media catering the growing user base that visits web and uses apps with their smartphones.
When developing properly optimized mobile sites several decisions has to be made regarding messaging, content and codes:
Creating a Redirect Strategy
Many visitors access websites through Google Search. If the link Google places in its search results leads to a url of a desktop version of the site, it is important that the page owner has a strategy in place with regards to how to handle a visitor on a smartphone. A good practice is to redirect the visitor to a relevant page on the mobile site rather than to take the visitor to a mobile site’s landing page. Furthermore, dynamically created pages and content should also be formatted for mobile viewing. The larger the desktop site is, the more work it takes to create an effective redirection strategy. Consider delivering all relevant content on a mobile site making sure that all links stay within the mobile site.
Unifying Content Management Systems
Especially when developing a large scale site it can be cumbersome to manage two versions of the site, the desktop site version and the mobile site version. Content updates such as adding text or images would take a double amount work in case these sites would utilize two separate, disconnected content management systems or no content management systems at all. A content that streams from one centralized content management system saves time and minimizes errors. An experienced content management system developer can create a custom CMS solution with specified features for a desktop site and specified features for a mobile site, while maintaining most of the content under one umbrella.
Providing Mobile Optimized Media Content
Flash videos, games and animations don’t play on Apple’s iOS devices and require a strategy how this type of content will be handled on mobile devices. Rather than displaying a message of not viewable content for the user’s device, it is better to offer alternative content making sure the mobile site doesn’t appear broken or come across as a secondary version.
Considering a Responsive Design
Instead of building a separate mobile web site, a client may consider a combination site designed and coded responsibly according to responsive design principles. Mobile applications developed with HTML5 utilizing responsive user interface design focus on adjusting the presentation of web media content for mobile device use. A strong well planned out CSS rules and coding is the key for successfully implementing the responsive design method. According to set CSS rules, the display of the applications’s content layout and components may be programmed to auto-reformat for display mobile differently than on tablet or desktop. An example of responsive web design would be for a layout that displays four columns of content in a ‘landscape’ view on tablet devises, but when in ‘portrait’ view, would auto-shift to show only two columns of content instead of 4. Further, then when the same content is viewed on a mobile devices, the content would shift to slim down further to show only one column of content. Responsive UI Design is not a mobile web application framework but rather a method for allowing well planned and coded HTML5 content to display differently on desktop, table and mobile.
Bottom Line: A properly optimized mobile site takes a user to a correct relevant page when accessing site through a search engine result link, indexes well on search engines, displays content in a mobile friendly manner, and has a fluent flow for interactivity.