There is an excellent and comprehensive JISC Observatory Techwatch Report on Delivering Web to Mobile (Power, 2012). The report
looks at the growth of mobile, the state of the Web and gives an overview of approaches to delivering content and services optimised for the mobile context. This includes approaches to Web design for responsive sites, leveraging access to device functions and capabilities and the use of Web technologies to build mobile applications.
Many web developers now argue that the design and usability of desktop sites can be improved by designing for mobile first and building on that to create your desktop site.
Approaches to developing mobile websites
There are several possible approaches to developing mobile websites. In order to make your mobile site easy to find it can be helpful to use the same url as your main site and use device detection or browser detection to redirect users or render a mobile version of the site.
There is some debate whether a better user experience results from creating a separate mobile site or from using responsive design techniques to enable your main site to work on all screen sizes. Different arguments for and against responsive design are outlined below.
If you do create a separate mobile site it is good practice to enable your users to toggle between the mobile and desktop sites, especially if the mobile site does not have all the information or functionality that is available through the desktop site.
- Mobile Site vs. Full Site (Nielsen 2012) and a counter argument, Why We Shouldn’t Make Separate Mobile Websites (Lawson 2012)
- Repurposing vs Optimised design (Nielsen 2012)
- Responsive web design (Marcotte 2010)
- Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It (Knight 2011)
Examples of mobile websites