Apps vs. Responsive Design

When you have a website, how do you get your content on mobile? Sure, visitors could just fire up their favourite mobile browser and zoom in and out until the cows come home but that’s not ideal right?

As I see it, you’ve got two choices:

  1. build an app for every smartphone to syndicate your content, or
  2. adapt a responsive design for your website

Pros and Cons

I’ll start with the conclusion: it depends on what you want to do, but building an app for every device is expensive and overkill most of the time. Writing an app does however have the flexibility if you want to make it more interactive with inputs from the GPS, camera or accellerometer.

On the other hand if you publish alot of news on your website or just plain old blog posts, there are simpler ways to make your content more friendly towards the legions of different gadgets that troll the web these days. It is called Responsive Design.

The idea is to design your website in such a way that it adapts to whatever resolution it is displayed at. This means that a visitor on a computer with a large display would see the normal layout while a visitor on a 320 x 240 display (for example) would see an adapted layout where text and images fit on the screen at normal zoom levels.

Here’s an example (see Designmodo for more):

The Boston Globe - a different layout for different screen sizes

As I mainly focus on WordPress, I’ll be trying out a theme framework called Reverie from ThemeFortress for a few upcoming projects.

Tell me about your experiences while adapting to the mobile world by leaving a comment.