Key Challenges When Making Your Site Responsive Posted by: Greg on 25/06/2013

Key challenges when making your site responsive image

As the handheld device market grows, tablets and smartphones are becoming our default choice for connecting to the internet.

According to Google’s Mobile Planet, in 2012 52% of smartphone users in the UK admitted to using their mobile phones to browse the internet more than 3 times a day whilst only 45% of users used their desktop in the same time period.

About 72% of UK smartphone users used their mobile device for browsing the internet in 2012, which is the second highest activity on a mobile device, a mere 3% less than using the camera and 9% higher than any other function. Mobile device owners are increasingly using their devices for browsing the internet as a primary function and it is crucial for brands to have a mobile presence of their own.

An increasingly popular approach to achieving that mobile presence is Responsive Web Design (RWD). RWD allows for a single site to be compatible on more devices than ever before such as desktop, tablet and smart phones. This means that no matter the device, your website will be user friendly and easy to use. Because it’s all built within the web browser there is no need for mobile app updates either, making your site easy and affordable to update as more and more mobile devices and technologies are introduced.

Whilst it’s definitely worth making your site responsive for the above reasons, there are some considerations worth bearing in mind when beginning the process of a new responsive solution or applying a responsive design to your existing site.

Site content

The idea of having a mobile site is to speed up and simplify the content you are delivering to your audience. With RWD you have one site for all devices, so it is always a challenge deciding whether to tailor your content for mobile or desktop, or to have a sub-set of content for mobile devices.

Images

Just like site content we have to take into consideration how the images from the desktop site will react on a smaller device or if the file size is too large to download over a mobile network connection.

Media handling

Having media, such as video or audio, on your site is a great way to engage your audience, but what happens with it in regards to RWD. Do all devices support Flash? Can the device interact correctly with the video? These are some of the problems when handling media in a responsive web design.

A variety of screen resolutions

Whilst it’s true that mobile devices are becoming a popular medium for browsing the internet, we have to consider that desktop PCs and TVs are still widely used and screen resolutions for those devices are getting bigger.

What comes first - mobile or desktop?

The biggest question when developing a responsive solution is whether or not you should build for the smaller screen sized mobile device with a potentially slower connection, or for the desktop browser market with their huge screens and unlimited bandwidth.

Some people argue that mobile first is the best option because it’s focussing on the most basic structure of the site where as some people would argue that desktop is first due to it being viewed by larger audiences.

The truth is somewhere in between and the correct approach really depends on a variety of factors such as the target audience, the content and design.

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