mobileI was surprised but it’s true. Well I am speaking about Apartmentsapart; we have not run the stats yet on Rentals United. 40% of all our visitors surf on a mobile device! Desktop websites look just awful on a small mobile screen, deliver too much to read, and may not work at all. Given this fact it seems quite important to have a mobile strategy.

We’re just at the tail end of coding a mobile site so I thought I’d share our experience on how we got here.

App or webpage?

These days most people know what a mobile app is, but the less tech-savvy among us may not be aware that a website can also be made web friendly. Here are the points we considered when deciding which to code: App or mobile website:

Speed: Apps tend to run faster than mobile webpages and offer an experience native to the device hosting them. However websites can be made faster using javascript.

Apps can cache data and work offline. Websites cannot.

Functionality: Apps can offer more functionality than a mobile website. If a mobile website is too heavy it may not work at all on some devices. Apps can push notifications to a user. Websites cannot.

– Apps integrate perfectly with the operating system of the device creating a perfect look and feel (colours/icons).

Cost: If you decide to do an app you’ll need to make 3 apps (Windows, Apple, Android) all requiring different developers. With a mobile website tweaks will need to be made to accommodate various browsers. However in terms of cost a mobile website is a clear winner.

Frequency of use: If the user will use your site over and over he probably wants to install the app. If not then an app is a liability. Nobody wants to install an app to use it once. However once an app is on the desktop it’s advertising so it’s great if the customer is a regular user. For most of us the sensible choice is not to make an app.

Our decision: Make a mobile website.

adaptive-responsiveResponsive or Adaptive?

You’ve probably heard a lot about responsive websites recently. It’s the latest buzzword among business owners. But, here’s a secret – it’s already out of date.

A responsive website looks good in both portrait and landscape views. It uses tweaks to CSS (formatting to make HTML look the same throughout the website ) to adapt the same HTML to any screen. In theory this sounds great but in practice having one set of HTML for all screen sizes means you deliver a lot of annoying extras for users to sift through on very small screens.

Adaptive websites detect the device and deliver only the HTML and CSS which is suitable for the screen size. Using adaptive delivery the server can remove functionality on the fly to make it most suitable for the device. Adaptive delivery is focused on the user and the actions he is most likely to undertake, rather than delivering the full functionality on every page.

Adaptive delivery is useful:

– When you expect certain behaviours form a user – like filling a booking form or browsing photos.

– When you don’t want to re-code the mobile functions when you upgrade your main website.

– When speed is important. Adaptive design only delivers what is needed and hence is faster.

– When focus on behaviour and conversion matters

Our decision: Use Adaptive Delivery

Building it

A lot of thought has to go into an adaptive website. You’ll need to think when people might want to slide or click, when content should pop up in a new tab and when it should just be on a new layer. Sometimes you’ll want the page to scroll with a user’s finger. Sometimes it should move only a map. It needs to be tested on all manner of devices and browsers. It needs to switch seamlessly from landscape to portrait and popups need to fit nicely on the screen. It’s a bit of a marathon, but it can be done 🙂

Remember also the user may want to use his location and browse on a mobile device, but book on the desktop, so you need to allow him to send himself emails with the properties he is interested in.

The good news

After all this work there is a silver lining. If you are connected to Rentals United through XML you can use us to deliver your content seamlessly.

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