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December 21, 2012

Mobile Strategy is Bigger than Responsive Design

Responsive Design is pretty cool, but that doesn’t make it the silver bullet of mobile strategy.

Jacob Emerick

There’s been a lot of buzz this year around the term ‘responsive design’. A combination of adaptive practice and fluid layouts, the ideas and methods behind responsive have been sweeping the industry and even prompted a number of inspiring website redesigns and mobile conversion success stories. Here at Blue Door Consulting we’ve made it an internal standard for our new sites to work well across different devices, which usually results in making them responsive.

However, it’s important to realize that the mobile market needs more attention than just a fluid layout.

Several years ago there were only two tools to target mobile users: app development and targed mobile sites. We now have a plethora of options, including responsive design, location-based services, SMS marketing, QR codes, and push notifications. Even with the rise of responsive websites, these other tools are still relevant- in fact, there may be use cases to build a separate mobile website instead of enhancing a ‘desktop’ site to work on smaller screens. Picking and choosing which tools work for your business should be focused on an overall mobile strategy and not a one-route solution.

So how do you come up with a mobile strategy?

The same way you develop any marketing plan: evaluate your audience, determine your goals, and roll out measurable tools. There is nothing saying that responsive should be ruled out, or that a mobile-targeted websites shouldn’t have some level of fluidity (not all phones have the same screen size). However, it is still just one of several mobile tools. A location-based marketing plan could be tied to an application or even a non-mobile engagement. A scanned QR code could trigger an email coupon.

One area that responsive should be fairly prevasive is with normal web development, but even then it is not an end-all solution. Many full-featured web presences have dozens, if not over a hundred, unique assets that can cause slow download times and performance issues. Being able to load a separate limited site within a few seconds on a mobile device is more important than having all the bells and whistles.

Responsive design is a great tool, but it is not the only solution to mobile strategy. Don’t lose focus on the bigger picture!