The Internet is bringing us together, no doubt about it. But unfortunately, the multitude of Internet platforms is pushing us further and further apart.
Have you ever been using Facebook on a desktop computer and clicked on a link posted by a friend on his or her smartphone, only to be taken to the mobile version of that website? It looked pretty weird on your big desktop screen right?
Responsive web design and Intentional web design are big news in 2013. And they are two ways mobile marketers can address these kinds of cross-platform discrepancies.
With responsive design, social sharing doesn’t have this problem. The link sent from a tablet to a mobile phone to a desktop computer would always be the same link, and because the link would be responsive to that device, the site will always appear custom-tailored to any and every device.
Responsive design means creating one site that is responsive to different sized screens. It is replacing the practice of creating completely different sites for different devices. Responsive design improves the user’s experience with easier navigation because the sites they visit are customized for the device they are using. Developers don’t have to worry about creating a whole new website every time a new device is introduced into the market.
Programmers create responsive design using CSS and media queries. When your message is opened on a small screen, it “knows” to load a different set of styles to resize and format for a mobile layout. Since responsive design keeps the code for all of the sites in one place, it is easier to make adjustments than having to go into each separate site to make the necessary changes.
But you aren’t here to discuss programming. We’re here to discuss marketing. Well, responsive design can help your search engine rankings. Because there is only one URL—not the case if you create each site separately—your SEO efforts will not become watered down with all of the different URL’s.
Email marketers are altering email layout for a mobile design. Or at least they should be. Can your recipients read every word and click on every link without having to use the “pinch and zoom” method? Because if they can’t, you can be sure they aren’t going to see your email.
You may have heard of “scalable design.” That’s redesigning for bigger typeface and bigger buttons, and it works—to an extent. Responsive design takes your message a step further. Is it a fad? Well, instead of trying to answer that question ourselves, we’ll let the leader in search answer it for you: Responsive design is now recommended by Google.
Responsive design will continue to develop and adjust as it is used more and more. As this is a new concept, there are problems you may encounter. Responsive sites can be tricky to develop if the original desktop version has lots of content. Businesses with hundreds of thousands of pages on their sites may find it difficult to redesign the entire site with a responsive design. A separate mobile site, however, can start small and add more content over time. For some businesses, mobile visitors’ needs are so different from desktop users, so responsive design may not the best option.
Intentional web design is a newer concept, one that takes up where responsive design leaves of. It features dynamically restructured HTML to increase layout options with a backwards-compatible, scalable, flexible front-end.
The Wall Street Journal recently became the first big site to use intentional web design by tailoring its website. Essentially, when accessed by iPhone, the user pulls up a customized experience that looks and feels the Journal‘s mobile application. WSJ plans a site for Android devices soon.
WSJ’s first BlackBerry mobile experience debuted six years ago—well ahead of the iPhone’s launch.The company has been calling its digital strategy “WSJ Everywhere,” and their goal is to mirror the publication’s popular mobile application no matter where Internet browsers may find them.
So how does this differ from responsive design? Well, responsive design is all about making a website look good on a phone (or a tablet). Intentional design does the same thing, but with an overarching goal of making the various layouts consistent with the brand and feel the user will also find using the application associated with the business or brand.
The Wall Street Journal is getting all the attention, but the entire industry is realizing that mobile-compatible websites are going to be necessary. Having an “app” won’t be enough. So as 2013 unfolds, look for smart apps that are connected to products and CRM systems, and look for consistently branded websites that look better and better across a range of platforms.