Everyone today tells us “I want my current website to be mobile friendly.” The way to accomplish this goal is via a web development technique called “responsive web design”. Responsive web design enables your website to display itself correctly no matter whether the visitor is using a smart phone, tablet or desktop.
Don’t confuse responsive web design with a separate “mobile only” website because there are two different approaches to web development. A mobile only website differs from a website employing responsive web design in three key fashions:
- Unlike a responsive website, which uses the same domain for all devices, a mobile only website typically has its own domain name that is different from the desktop version (i.e., m.abccompany.com vs. abccompany.com).
- Unlike a responsive website, which uses the same code for all devices, a mobile only website has its own code. A website utilizing the responsive approach has a single code base that automatically adapts to the width of the screen used by the visitor, whether the device is a desktop, tablet, or smart phone.
- A mobile only website may look entirely different from a responsive website.
The best candidates for a separate mobile only version are news focused websites, like foxnews.com or cnn.com.
So what’s involved in converting your current website into one that utilizes responsive web design? You basically have two options:
- Start over from scratch, and this is the approach I recommend if you’re planning on redesigning your website, or
- Update your website’s code to a framework that supports responsive web design, such as Bootstrap or Foundation.
Either way, you’re basically starting over and both require about the same amount of work as a website redesign project.