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Mobile Friendly Vs Mobile Responsive Websites: What’s The Difference?

Nowadays just having a website is no longer enough to remain on the cutting edge of competitiveness. The vastness and potential of the World Wide Web and online markets for various industries is ever-expanding, and continually transforming in sophistication. One area of significant advancement lies in the types of hardware that allow users access to the internet and its ocean of information.

Greg Baleson

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Understanding the need for mobile responsive web build

Today, unlike our predecessors, we no longer depend on bulky desktop personal computers, which not too long ago were revered as the epitome of technological breakthrough.

Now Smartphones, tablets, iPhones, iPads and devices of increasing portability and convenience continue to revolutionise the industry. Hence the need for greater and greater flexibility of typical website builds to align with viewing on smaller devices of varying sizes and operating systems from various manufactures including Android and Apple.

See Figure 1 below for a comparison on mobile versus desktop access to the internet, in this case just looking at the US market as a benchmark.

Related: Breeze Website Designers’ Bongani Gosa On Learning From Mistakes

Internet usage

Figure 1

Meeting the need: Mobile Responsive Web Solutions

Based on the above-mentioned advancement in devices and internet accessibility, the market responded with two primary alternatives: A Mobile version of a website and Responsive design and development.

Strictly speaking the responsive web build arose from the limitations of the mobile website, in an attempt to address such.

However, today there are various websites with separate mobile versions, while others have upgraded their existing websites with responsive features and applicable scripting. Still many haven’t made any shift at all, although they are likely to do so in the foreseeable future.

Mobile Friendly and Mobile Responsive differences

Most people often use the terms “mobile friendly” and “mobile responsive” website design or website build interchangeably. However, if one was to gain an intricate understanding on the subject, it’ll become apparent that there are in fact technical differences.

It is thus crucial to understand these differences as well as the advantages and features of the two options. For this purpose the following comparisons have been compiled:

Mobile Friendly Website

This is essentially a unique version of the base website, with a separate domain address or name. It is a duplicate version even though the content itself will vary.

  • Requires duplication of content updates or development, due to the existence of two independent platforms.
  • The mobile website as mentioned will have a unique address. Companies generally distinguish their mobile versions with m.companyname.com.
  • Based on the above the domain protection can be compromised with this option. In other words the domain can be diluted and organic search engine optimisation or traffic adversely affected. This adds to website management because you have to maintain two separate platforms of content.
  • This offers a personalised and tailored viewing and navigation experience for users. The server will execute the optimised page or version based on which device is detected.
  • Link equity and link building will be diluted as shares from mobile technology will be independent of those shared by desktop browsers or the primary website. This adversely affects SEO, or curtails its efforts.
  • Mobile technology is continually changing. As this advances so too will the need for ongoing maintenance of websites, especially where they are customised to specific devices. So while the mobile option offers a uniquely tailored avenue for specific devices, the questions of maintenance and relevance arise. Keeping the mobile site up-to-date, and in congruency to latest phones and browsers, will call for higher maintenance and more resources.
  • On the basic premise of efficiency or output / result per unit resource, efficiency is diluted somewhat due to the separate websites and adjusted content.
  • Both websites will have to be optimised for search purposes. This calls for separate SEO strategies or duplication of techniques to accommodate the desktop and mobile versions adequately.
  • With regards to content, one of the signature characteristics of the mobile website, is the fact that it is built on less content. Since there are 2 versions of the base website or online representation, the desktop version will be content-heavy or more intensive. On the other hand the copy or copywritten content as well as images will be reduced wherever possible or necessary in the creation of the mobile website.
  • Visually the mobile website is “bold” with big buttons, easy functionality for mobile users – such as click-to-call options that make sense in such cases – and content is kept to a minimal.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

Mobile Responsive Website

This refers to a singular website which can adapt in format and presentation to suite different viewing devices. This can be an adaptation of an existing website or, if deemed necessary, a complete new build to replace the old unresponsive site. The domain remains the same.

  • All updates and back-end development are made seamlessly to the same, individual platform.
  • Domain name or URL will be the same on the desktop, smart or any mobile device.
  • Domain is protected as organic web traffic will not be redirected to another link or version. Search engines like Google therefore favour responsive options as a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoids any complicated and time-consuming redirects, and simplifies sharing of web addresses.
  • In responsive design, the device facilitates optimum user experience by automatically adjusting to suite the device’s screen size and orientation – whether portrait or landscape. This takes place seamlessly, making it an intelligent, efficient and adaptive option.
  • Responsive design entails scripting new code and adjusting existing code on the back-end or server-level of your website. This preserves the inherent link equity, meaning that all shares and backlinks will be credited to the primary website. This means all web traffic, from all browsing devices will be attributed to the authority of the base site – which is fantastic for search purposes.
  • Responsive technology is as the name suggests: Adaptive and futuristic or forward-thinking. Essentially, it is largely pre-emptive and caters to next month’s or the following years devices quite comfortably. Although maintenance as a formality is necessary to sustain and enhance the standards of any website, the demands are far less in this case. This saves in time and development costs giving an overall better ROI.
  • Considered a more intelligent and efficient model for new-age-relevant websites – due to the “simplicity in sophistication” so to say.
  • Optimisation for web traffic or relevant SEO strategy will only apply to the single, primary website.
  • In this approach, large images will either automatically compact or disappear where unnecessary on the smaller screen. However, what is advantageous is that essential content, articles and other features or elements will adapt by neatly ‘stacking’ and / or arranging themselves in such a way to accommodate the specifications of the browser and device.
  • Still visually built for simplicity and mobile-friendliness on any device or orientation, the responsive look makes navigation easier, but doesn’t lose content. As mentioned the same content will intuitively adapt for optimum viewing experience.

Related: A Few Things You Might Not Think Of When Creating Your First Business Website

This article has highlighted the main characteristics, core features and differences between what has become known as the “mobile friendly” website, versus the “mobile responsive” website.

We trust that you’ve found this review useful, but be sure to look out for forthcoming articles on the topic. Feel free to comment, we’d love to have feedback and hear your thoughts on the subject.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Alan

    May 19, 2016 at 11:51

    Thanks for a good article. I also advise clients to look at the each touch point or step in the user journey. User’s / customer’s journeys are different for these environments.

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Forever Learning, Discovering And Empowering

From work-life balance to finding the right support, Constance Kawelenga CA(SA), director and owner of Zuva Financial Services, shares her top tips on how to manage a successful business as a sole proprietor.

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“Every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”

“When I established Zuva Financial Services, it was under the ‘illusion’ of a work-life balance. I say ‘illusion’, because when you work for yourself, you put in just as many hours, if not more, than when you work for someone else.

“I also wanted the flexibility to be able to shape my working space around my own lifestyle and family, and not to have to account to anyone else. The rigorous training to become a chartered accountant taught me to be highly disciplined. That means when I work for my own business, I am just as tough on myself, if not tougher, than any boss would have been in a different setting. The plus for me is that I am able to be there for my family when I need to be, and compensate for this in a way that best suits my lifestyle.”

Being your own boss has its pros and cons. However, for Constance, it is all worthwhile. Setting targets for her business every year and achieving those targets is deeply satisfying. Again, this is something she attributes to her training — she values client success and feedback.

“Whenever I get affirmation from clients regarding the value that we are adding to their business, and they refer other clients to us, I celebrate those achievements. The growth of Zuva Financial Services’ has resulted mostly from referrals or word of mouth and that, to me, is a testimony to the value that our clients place on our services.”

Related: The Power Of Finding Your Why

Overcoming a lack of internal support

The hardest thing about being the owner of Zuva Financial Services for Constance is the lack of an internal support structure. However, Constance has developed a network of technical specialists that she can call upon to consult. She agrees that technical support remains the toughest challenge of being a sole practitioner.

“We offer a mixed bag of services such as accounting, taxation, secretarial, payroll and even Black Economic Empowerment consulting. Additionally, I have audit clients — some in industries with specific reporting requirements such as estate agents and attorneys working with trusts. On a smaller scale, the breadth of services is almost the same as those offered by bigger firms. The difference is that I don’t have the internal resources such as a technical department.

Prior to establishing Zuva Financial Services, Constance spent six years in audit, mostly in Zimbabwe, but also in Botswana and South Africa. Since then, she has also been exposed to other financial roles, where she fulfilled financial management roles for different organisations such BMW Financial Services.

Constance advises those aspiring to follow in her footsteps and open their own companies not to overthink it, or doubt themselves.

Related: Can Computers Replace Human Accountants? We Doubt They Can

Don’t overthink it

”It took me such a long time to take my first step because I could not believe that I would be able to build up a client base. Today, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the workload on my plate. It reminds me of my mother-in-law’s advice when I started my business. She told me that every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”

Constance describes herself as “forever learning, discovering and empowering.” She adds: “We each have a unique walk in life — ours is to boldly step out and embrace it”.

Visit www.saica.co.za

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TuksNovation – Accelerated Innovation With The University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria’s high-tech business incubator will be launched on the 6th of August by Minister Zulu, Department of Small Business Development at UP – Hatfield Campus, to alleviate the serious challenges related to unemployment South Africa is faced with.

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According to Trading Economics (2017), the youth unemployment rate in SA is extremely high at 55,9%. The University of Pretoria is aware of this challenge and has embarked on launching a high-tech business incubator and accelerator.

This business technology incubator, known as TuksNovation, will promote job creation by providing support for the commercialisation of technology, networking, mentoring and sustainable spin-off technology companies.

Fuelling the economy

In a knowledge-driven economy, universities play a major role in regional socio-economic development. Innovations arising from a university’s intellectual capital can stimulate economies through new product development. Universities are therefore highly valued in terms of economic potential.

Although the creation of spin-offs is one of the key mechanisms that universities can leverage to promote socio-economic development, few universities in South Africa have done so, and the impact has been very modest. This low success rate can be attributed to the absence of an entrepreneurial culture, limited access to funding, as well as technology transfer offices at universities that lack critical skills and capacity.

Related: The Power Of Life-Long Learning with University of Pretoria

The elements of success

TuksNovation is based on the triple helix model of Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1995). According to the University of Stanford Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) (2011), the triple helix concept comprises three basic elements:

  1. It allows universities to play a more prominent role in innovation, on par with industry and government in a knowledge based society.
  2. There is a movement towards collaborative relationships among the three major institutional spheres, in which innovation policy is increasingly an outcome of interaction, rather than a prescription of government.
  3. In addition to fulfilling their traditional functions, each institutional sphere also performs 34 new roles. Institutions that are currently taking on non-traditional roles are viewed as a major potential source of innovation.

Over the long-term, the business incubator aims to enable the development of industrial clusters with a positive economic impact in Tshwane. It is set up in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). 

How it works

TuksNovation aims to build strong networks among academia, government and industry to create new spin-offs that can benefit society. According to Prof Elma van der Lingen, Chairperson of the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) at the University of Pretoria, the TuksNovation model is based on allocating seed funding to students who are keen to become entrepreneurs and are conducting research on projects that have the potential to develop commercially viable technology.

“Annual TuksNovation competitions will be held on campus and interested students will be able to participate in order to qualify for TuksNovation seed funding to develop their ideas into commercial products,” she says.

The competitions will have strict guidelines and will be evaluated by a committee comprising mainly representatives from industry and technopreneurs. The technology development phase of the projects will be conducted in a virtual incubator in the University’s laboratories and at facilities at local industries.

The students will receive expert technical guidance from academics at the University, as well as technological entrepreneurship training. Various in-kind contributions will also flow from building strong industry networks.

Some benefits from this relationship could include:

  • The use of industry facilities
  • Research on industry-related problems
  • Employment for students and mentorship.

Related: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

Funding for the business phase of the projects is secured from external funders, such as venture capitalists, investors, and corporations.

Students with commercially viable technology will make pitches and submit business plans to potential investors in order to secure funding. SEDA covers the incubator’s initial operational costs. TuksNovation will initially support the development of spin-offs in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, but will expand to other faculties involved in science and technology at UP, depending on the availability of funding.

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Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Being able to confidently speak and write in English has never been so important. Using the right words in the right way can make a massive difference to any company.

Wits Language School

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Do you know the difference between “organize” and “organise”? Do you believe “device” and “devise” are the same thing? Do you think a comma and a semicolon could be used interchangeably? Why is “talk about” considered informal language? How does one create cohesion in your writing?

Few people in the business sector ask these questions; it could be because they do not focus on the language they use in business correspondence or, as second language speakers of English they do not know the answers. With many pupils in South Africa receiving basic education in their mother tongue, many enter the business sector not knowing the basic rules of how to articulate an idea coherently or cohesively. It is often when they are asked to compile a formal business report or prepare a presentation that few realise the importance of upskilling their English proficiency.

At the Wits Language School’s English Communication for Professional Development unit, that is the main focus: Enhancing participants’ English language skills for the business environment in an interactive manner. Whether you need to go back to the basics; learn how to write and edit emails, proposals, memos, minutes or reports; enhancing your speaking and pronunciation skills in order to deliver confident presentations; or practise your critical thinking skills when using English in your everyday life, there is the right course to fit your needs and help you climb that corporate ladder by focusing on what many regard as a “soft skill”.

Related: Tips To Becoming Fluent

Business English students can generally be classified into two sections: those who recognise the need to address their language skills, and those who believe they do not need any language training. The first group often walks into a class not knowing what to expect and leave with more confidence in their English spoken and written forms. The second group leaves the class understanding language structures better and rely more on grammar and writing rules than on what “sounds right”. Regardless of the group you might fall in, participants who successfully complete the courses gain knowledge, understanding, confidence, a higher aptitude in English and critical analysis of the language they are expected to converse in.

Take for example the following sentences – “I write reports”, “I am writing a report”, “I wrote a report”, “I have written a report”, “I have been writing a report” and “I had written a report”. Although all of these sentences are grammatically correct, they are very different in meaning and intention. “We could invest”, “We must invest”, “We might invest” and “We should invest” indicate different intensities and degrees, and “Please see attached” is better than writing “Kindly see attached”. One should avoid using a colon after a verb or preposition when you list things, and “U.S.A.” and “USA” refer to two different writing styles (one of which is preferable in South Africa).

Today, many companies are recognising the importance of English in the workplace as a way to create better internal and external communication, as well as creating uniformity in general forms of correspondence and business documents. While some companies offer their staff financial assistance in upskilling themselves, other companies opt to complete training as a group. With classes being presented in a communicative and fun way, English training has never before been made more accessible and exciting. Public classes run every Saturday over a 10-week period, while more customised corporate training takes place during the week at a time and place convenient for the client. Participants often comment that they start to analyse, question and edit their writing more critically and that their superiors at work see a marked change once they start a short course from Wits Language School.

Read next: How English Language Skills Play An Essential Role In Building Trust With Your Customers

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