Mobile web browsing is a reality. The Pew Research Organization reported in April of 2015 that “64% of American adult now own a smartphone.” People rely on smartphones and mobile devices to access healthcare, banking, real estate, government services, and education services and resources every day. This places ever greater importance on web development that plans for mobile performance from the ground up. Read more on the Pew Research Study here, US Smartphone Use in 2015.
The two prevailing approaches to mobile web development are responsive web design and dynamic serving. Responsive web design allows a webpage to “adapt to the size of the viewing window” lowering development costs by focusing on content formatting. Dynamic serving provides device-specific web content depending on the type of device used for browsing. B2Interactive offers an insightful article weighing the pros and cons of each approach.
Recently, industry best-practices have focused on responsive web-design in an attempt to simplify mobile web browsing (thanks in large part to endorsements by Google and the Whitehouse). Customers may not always follow the bleeding-edge of technology trends. Knowing how and when to meet a customer’s needs requires a deep understanding of industry best-practices.
Recently, on a RFD mobile development project, Erik Dietz RFD’s Project Manager found that relying on responsive web design did not meet customer requirements.
Erik recalled that “many times [the customer’s] user interface design wouldn’t allow the responsive elements we had initially proposed. … Issues like buttons wrapping in unwanted ways showed the nuances and drawbacks offered by such a flexible design. So we wrote a second desktop site to be sure we were truly meeting their needs and even then browser-resizing on the desktop site was done using responsive design elements.”
As modern users migrate to mobile web browsing, knowing how your website performs across multiple platforms is necessary for providing a quality experience for a variety of users. Developers gain insight into providing a consistent user experience in an ever-changing environment by cultivating an awareness of the constraints that surround mobile connectivity and the variety of mobile processing platforms.
What has your experience been with responsive design compared to dynamic serving? We look forward to learning about your mobile development experiences and sharing our critical success factors.