Mobile responsiveness is a term given for how well a website responds on differently sized devices. It might be a smartphone (small device) or massive project screen (large device) or who knows what in the coming years (kitchen appliances, anyone?).
Mobile friendly is the term used for any site that provides a positive user experience to someone using a mobile device.
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Without getting too technical, mobile responsive sites are built adhering to the notion of a fluid grid. If you think of a screen that displays your website as a piece of graph paper, the more traditional desktop-only approach was a fixed grid. Here’s the paper, here’s the size, and with a few margins to account for different screen resolutions and browsers, boom you were done. Think of it like putting a couch in your living room. You know the size of the room and the couch and you choose dimensions accordingly. The fixed approach broke when we started to view websites on a wide variety of devices. That’s where the fluid grid comes in. Your graph paper now needs to shrink and grow like something cool in a sci-fi movie depending on whether someone is looking at your site on a desktop, phone, tablet, etc. The dimensions are now uncertain and changeable. That big IKEA couch suddenly doesn’t fit in the living room because you went from a big house to a New York tiny studio in a blink of an eye. So the room (aka device display) simply chops off part of the couch or makes a mini-couch that is too small to be useful or some combination that makes for a poor user experience.
There are different methodologies of how to accomplish this fluidity or adaptive approximation and most programmers can wax poetic about them. I’m a fan of informing, interpreting, and getting into action since your website is meant to support your business, not take on a life of its own.
So what do you do now?
Achieving a mobile friendly site can be accomplished in a few different ways. Your site can:
- Use a mobile-responsive template or be built using mobile-responsive code from the start (example: WordPress themes that are mobile-responsive).
- Be retrofitted using code that will make a non-responsive site mobile friendly.
- Use a separate design or template from the one displayed on desktops/laptops that is designed specifically and only for mobile devices.
Each of these approaches require different amounts of work, and comes with its own pro’s and con’s. I’ll detail that in my next article and help you make an informed decision for your own site.
Meanwhile… Not sure if your site is affected? Have you failed the Google test and need to do something about it? Contact me right away and I can help you sort through your options, make a cost-effective choice, and get changes made quickly.