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Mobile-specific and responsive design: two different takes this election season

The Web Development Group is located right outside of Washington DC, in Alexandria, VA. Needless to say, in such a key political location, we have been infiltrated with political ads. Since tonight is the first presidential debate, we thought it was fitting to bring in our own debate. It’s one we have covered before, but it is an interesting, dynamic topic that is constantly changing. So, which do you prefer, responsive or mobile-specific websites?

Romney’s campaign has a mobile-specific site. This means the site is designed and developed specifically for a mobile phone. This is a a popular choice because it allows you to minimize scrolling. Think back to your mobile phone web experiences, it can get pretty frustrating when you have to scroll down long pages that were clearly designed for more traditional internet viewing on a desktop. With mobile-specific sites, you can make the pages shorter which will decrease the amount of scrolling required and help your audience get to their desired content quickly. At The Web Development Group, we always have the desired audience in mind when developing mobile-specific sites (and all sites for that matter). We ask ourselves and our clients questions like, “what is the most important content that you want pushed out?” “What is the take-away message from your site?”. These help us hone in on the images and text that should be featured on the top of a mobile-specific site.

This sounds like a great option, but it isn’t all perfect. Consider the importance of being able to easily update the content on your website. Updating content on a mobile-specific website isn’t difficult but it doesn’t happen instantaneously when you update the content on your website. This means you will have to constantly be updating and maintaining two sites, both of which have the same purpose, with similar content. For sites that are constantly receiving an influx of content changes and edits, a mobile-specific site can be somewhat tedious.

Maybe you don’t think a mobile-specific site is the right choice for you. What other option do you have? Many of our clients choose to have responsive sites built for their website. Obama has a responsive design for his campaign. What are the advantages of having a responsive site? Well, there are a few but the main one is its ability to update instantaneously with your website. Basically what a responsive website does is reformat the images on your website to make them viewable from mobile and tablet devices. Unlike a mobile-specific site, you are not redirected to a mobile-specific website URL. For a website that needs to be updated often, it is nice to know that whatever you change on your main website will automatically be changed for people who are viewing your website from their cell phones.

Unfortunately, responsive sites will have the same page length as your primary website. This will often result in more scrolling and clicking. If your website has long pages and you have a responsive website designed, you will require your audience to scroll which is more likely to lead to higher levels of frustration and higher bounce rates. If your website has a lot of links/buttons, you are going to be requiring your audience to click often which, although not a huge inconvenience, isn’t always the easiest to do on cell phones.

Well there you have it, two opposing candidates with two different takes on mobile experiences. Are you more of a responsive or mobile-specific person? We always encourage feedback.

The Web Development Group specializes in both mobile-specific and responsive design in Virginia for its clients. We take the time to work with you to establish your mobile needs and come up with the best solution. Take a look at the screenshots below from two sites that we developed. Tennis.com is a mobile-specific site while MHz Networks is a responsive design. We have received positive feedback for both of the sites. Our mobile-specific developers and our responsive designers have the expertise and knowledge necessary to help you implement the perfect website for your mobile audience!

Tennis.com's mobile site MHz Networks' responsive site

Apart from mobile-specific and responsive designs, we also specialize in Virginia WordPress development and Drupal web development. We are passionate about what we do and enjoy talking to brands that are interested in going through a rebranding or getting a new website. Reach out to us to learn more!