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If you are planning a mobile strategy, you are probably contemplating the best mobile platform for your customers. There are a few options available to you and the decision to choose the best option depends on your marketing goals, budget and target audience.

Let’s review each option in turn:

Responsive Design

In response to the ever-changing landscape of different devices, browsers, screen sizes and orientations, responsive design deals with creating flexible, fluid and adaptive websites. This ensures that you only build your website once and that it displays appropriately on all different devices. WordPress have created responsive themes that adapts your website to mobile devices.  While there are design limitations with WordPress, it is a very good option if your budget is limited and you need your website to be responsive. A good example of a responsive design website is www.woolworths.co.za.

Mobile-optimised website

A mobile-optimised website is a desktop website that is designed so it also displays appropriately on a smart phone. A mobile-optimised website doesn’t require any scrolling to the left or right and the content typically fits onto half a desktop screen. In most cases, this simple website is text-based and contains tiny images.

The advantage of this option is that you only have to build one website. The distinct disadvantage is that the desktop experience is extremely limited as the design focus is governed by navigation efficiency on a mobile device and quick downloading speeds. A good example of a mobile-optimised website is www.picknpay.co.za.

Mobile website

A mobile website is specifically designed for mobile screens including tablets, etc. The information available on a mobile site reaches a broader audience than mobile application users, and can be secured for e-commerce functions. In this case, the mobile screen is the first screen and not the third screen (after television and desktop).

Mobile site design allows for the same URL to  display appropriately on different mobile screens. In some cases, the URL extension for a mobile site is  www.brand.mobi  and for others, the website will detect the browser type and automatically direct the user to the appropriate mobile site according to the screen size. Mobile sites can successfully support e-commerce activities like purchasing movie tickets and prepaid electricity. Good examples of a mobile site are www.sterkinekor.com and www.kalahari.com.

Mobile application

Mobile applications are designed for only certain handsets and operating systems. It can be useful when performing certain functions like when you want to check your airtime balance or transfer money from one bank account to another. Applications offer the consumer tailored and, sometimes, interactive communication that tends to focus on specific areas of interest, like a news (News24 or CNN) or banking (FNB).

An application is expensive to create as each different device needs a specific version of the application and it must be adaptable for phone updates. A good example is the FNB smart phone application.

In summary, navigation on a mobile website is built for efficiency, the images are optimised for quick loading and the content is minimised to be most effective. Why do we need to do this? Because poor experiences do not convert prospects into customers. They will close the page to end the bad experience and won’t go back.

USEFUL TIP:  Go to www.howtogomo.com and test your site’s URL to see how mobile-friendly your website actually is.

At this Google site you can test your site’s mobile appearance, learn the 10 best mobile design practices, and generate a custom report with recommendations for improvement to help you get started.

For more mobile information: Check out The Mobile Playbook – The Busy Executive’s Guide to Winning with Mobile

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