Are you ready for the mobile age? According to Mashable, between 2012 and 2013 mobile traffic increased by 6% globally. South America’s mobile web traffic more than doubled during this time period.
Adapting your website to match the growing needs of mobile users is important to capture that portion of your market. There are many different options to accommodate mobile site visitors. Mobile apps, mobile optimized pages, and responsive design are three different choices; but what exactly is the difference between these options?
Mobile apps are programs developed to work directly with your mobile device. In order to make this work you are required to program your website’s content in a different coding language. Then, it needs to be made available to various platforms accessed through places like Apple’s App Store or Google’s App Marketplace. In order for it to work on the end user’s device, they must download the application and then click on the application to launch the program. Think of things such as Facebook, Weather, games, etc. that have icons on your phone and launch into the programs once you click on them.
Mobile optimized websites, however, rely on standard HTML and CSS code that are already used to display your website. It provides an alternate layout option when someone visits your website from their mobile device. This mobile version of your site will automatically display to your visitor due to a simple piece of code that determines whether your visitor is using a mobile device or desktop computer.
The final option, responsive web design, is a newer offer. It was based off of the concept that development and design should adapt to the differing screen sizes, platforms, and orientations. Appropriately named, the web design will automatically switch, or “respond” to accommodate for different sizes, resolutions, and scripting abilities between different devices. It is comprised of flexible grids, layouts, images, and CSS media queries. Best of all, it eliminates the need for different designs and development for each gadget out on the market.
Out of the three options, the responsive website design is quickly becoming a favorite for businesses since it eliminates the need for multiple different development and design steps to fit other devices. In an effort to further understand the different options and benefits, we interviewed TallGrass Spa, a day spa located in the foothills of Evergreen, Colorado.
Opened in 1995, the spa offers facials, manicures, pedicures, massages, and hair services. It has gone from mobile to optimized mobile and is now switching to responsive design. Owner Gail Ridings, provides us with some insights on these different mobile options and how it has impacted TallGrass Spa (Keep an eye out for their new responsive design in mid November!).
Gail Ridings, TallGrass Owner
BV: Could you give us a little background on your mobile app and its success?
Gail: The mobile app was easy and it was offered to us for free while a local company was in the testing phase. The mobile app company was a startup in Evergreen and we like to support local community businesses. It was a novel thing to do at the time and additionally it got us some publicity. We got on the local news for launching the app for our business. However, it didn’t do much for business. It just wasn’t getting that much use. If you have to download something it takes some time. Most of my customers are between 35 and 50, and that’s not a huge market for apps. Apps are often used to push information to people (deals and information for the day), but that’s not what TallGrass does. Down the line it was not worth the money per month it cost.
BV: Why did TallGrass Spa decide to change over to a mobile optimized version?
Gail: We changed over to a mobile optimized version of the website because it is nice to work with one company. BannerView manages everything of ours, like our newsletter, our ecommerce, and our website. It’s really nice to work with one company that can handle everything, that can keep it all integrated and looking the same. It is really important to me as a business owner to have everything there instead of having to talk to three different vendors. The app couldn’t have the same look our website did. Even though the mobile optimized version is different than our website, all the elements are there. Our customers have talked about how they can get online and not have to download an app. It’s part of their lives looking at our site.
BV: What made you decide to move from the mobile optimized version to a new responsive design?
Gail: We’re redoing our whole website. We redid our commerce portion of our website, all of the graphics, the look, and functionality. Along with that upgrade is coming this new responsive design with BannerView.
BV: What specifically are you looking forward to with the new website launch?
Gail: A few different things. We do lots of online gift cards. With this new launch our online gift cards will have more functionality; such as the ability to buy spa packages or full day escapes instead of dollar amounts. We also will have a new look with new graphics and movement. We handle lots of business on our website and its important that it works as hard as possible for us.
BV: What goals do you hope for it to accomplish?
Gail: More gift card sales, better explanations on what packages are offered, and ease in purchasing gift cards. Better dedication to staff recruiting (not just all about customers).
BV: What was your experience like working with your developers to build this mobile site?
Gail: It was awesome. I really enjoy working with our designers, programmers, and Jeff. We’ve had a really good transition with it.
BV: What advice can you give to people looking to hire a company to develop a responsive website?
Gail: There are lots of people in the business that say they know what they’re doing. They claim that they can offer you cheaper rates and faster turn around and all of that. One thing I’ve learned the hard way is talk is cheap, and its really important to get people that are consistent, business oriented, and long-term oriented. You’ve got to work with a company that’s got experience and long term reputation, and BannerView has all of that.
We appreciate all of your knowledge and insights Gail! Keep an eye out for the new website. It is projected to be launched by Mid November 2013.
If you have any further questions or personal experiences regarding mobile adaptations for websites please let us know in the comments below!
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