In some ways, setting up and running a small business today is easier than it ever has been, as you have quick and simple access to a vast array of support options and development avenues.
In many more ways, however, it can be extremely difficult, most notably in the sense that there’s not only so much being developed to utilise, but it’s constantly changing.
And mobile web is a perfect example.
12 months ago, it was just starting to be seen as an important aspect for businesses to consider. Today, fail to offer a mobile experience and chances are you’re going to be missing out on a huge portion of your target market.
With a lot to consider here, one thing that is starting to cause business owners headaches is making a choice between a specific mobile website and a responsive design of your main site that ‘responds’ to the device it is viewed on.
Mobile websites have been the standard option up until now, but responsive designs are now often seen as the most advisable choice.
So how do you choose?
Although there are a few different points to consider, the whole decision generally comes back to a cost one.
The costs of mobile websites do vary (and often considerably so – you might be able to get started for around $100, while a completely bespoke design and features could cost several thousand), but there’ll usually be something to meet your needs for your budget.
Throw into the mix their often quick turnaround time and it’s understandable why these have been seen as the best option so far.
Now look at a responsive design. As this is a design of your main website, you’re not only essentially designing a brand new website, but you’re designing a website that works across various different platforms, constantly changing in its appearance.
Although great, such functionality is obviously going to come at a cost.
It’s because of this why when you’re faced with the decision of choosing between the two, you look at your available budget, your budget in the near future and your mobile requirements.
For example, let’s imagine your current website displayed extremely poorly on mobile platforms, but you don’t have the money for a responsive design and aren’t likely to in the coming few months. In this instance, a mobile website is likely to be the best option, as you’ll be able to begin offering a mobile experience almost immediately.
Now if you were in a similar situation, but it looked like you would have the money for a responsive design in the next few weeks, it would generally be advisable to wait – chances are responsive design is going to become the standard, so instead of investing in a mobile website now, waiting a couple of weeks until you can have a responsive design developed is likely going to be the best option.
The reason it wouldn’t be advised everyone waits until they have the money available for a responsive design, instead investing in a mobile website – even though the former is going to become the standard at some point – is that the longer you go without a mobile website, the more business you could be losing out on.
If it’s only going to be a couple of weeks, it’s unlikely to make any difference to your business – a couple of months, however and it could have a hugely negative impact on everything from brand reputation to your bottom line.
In an ideal world, every business would have a responsive design website – but we don’t live in an ideal world, so it’s important you understand which route to go down when developing a mobile web experience.
If you can afford a responsive design, then go for it; but if you can’t – or paying / saving for it is going to be to the detriment of your business, the cheaper mobile website should without doubt be the option you choose.