Responsive templates and the death of mobile web development

19 replies
For the past year I have been developing mobile websites for clients using a variety of tools and methods:

1) I've purchased the mobile marketing blueprint and used their templates to get started.
2) I've used Wordpress.
3) I've switched to Joomla and their awesome extension MobileJoomla - and since then, I have become a aware of a bit of a scary development.
4) I've used commercial mobile website building tools like GoMobi.

Joomla has recently released the 3.0 series which is built on the Twitter Bootstrap framework. This means that it is mobile-ready from the get-go. What this means is that a default installation of Joomla comes preloaded with a responsive template. Responsive templates change their layout to best accommodate the size of the screen viewing the content ie. the site scales up for desktops and down for tablets and mobile devices. It does this seamlessly, fluidly and in all instances I've seen, BEAUTIFULLY.

This leads me to my main concern:

If the mobile web development industry is predicated on the building of a separate mobile website and on using things such as device detection to detect mobile browsers and then shunt these users off to the mobile-friendly version, is this methodology not doomed with the imminent surge of responsive templates?

What do responsive templates really mean for the mobile web development industry? Has the game changed so radically that it will be near impossible to charge somebody for mobile enablement once more people become aware of the DIY nature of Joomla and its responsive templates?
Do responsive templates represent a shift in the mobile service provider landscape such that we need to rethink strategies and approaches?

I eagerly await your input.
#death #development #mobile #responsive #responsive mobile #templates #web
  • Profile picture of the author jherewini
    In my opinion responsive websites have altered and changed the way I now do business. I used to promote mobile apps but no longer use apps in my product offering because of the value responsive websites can offer my clients.

    As you've discovered they get a 2 for 1 deal they get a website and a mobile friendly website at the same time which is the point of having a mobile website.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew H
    Just sell responsive websites, and charge a premium.

    Grow, Adapt, Grow.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adrian John
    There is no death of mobile development lol.I said it before and I'm telling you now too.
    I don't agree that responsive design it's better than an custom-made mobile website simply from the fact that you can't concentrate the exact info that user needs to see in order to take action, call the business, find business hours and close the deal.Sure you can use an responsive design if you're looking for visitors,have them spend the time browsing your content, articles (maybe clicking on your ads), but if you're looking for clients(as a business owner) than i doubt responsive design it's an wise choice.You can not have the mobile visitor to take action unless the design it's built for it.
    I'm talking from my experience with my partners(US mainly, UK and Au) and by the volume of mobile websites they request.None of them are responsive cause they rather bring clients than visitors to the business owners.They want to see results, profits, not readers so they can have happy long term customers.
    Depending what you want for your clients you can sell an responsive template for premium price like somebody said earlier(that template will be all over the internet and only costs $xx), but for a long term customer generation I don't believe it's the right choice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
    The new default theme for wordpress is responsive too, and there are a nice selection of free and paid themes available. I think standalone mobile websites and responsive sites will both be around for a while and like Adrian, I see a benefit to a standalone site that's better optimized for mobile and allows visitors to quickly get at the most important info for a small business.
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  • Profile picture of the author toptones
    Responsive doesn't deal with the reason for having a mobile site in the first place. Eg. owners may think they can present the same kind of content in both (wrong). Responsive is a stop-gap in my view. A dedicated mobile site forces you to choose relevant content and create a site dedicated specifically to a mobile user.

    So, decide on your main purpose, then choose your platform. If it's a desktop site, use any theme you like including responsive -- a responsive here will be better than nothing if a mobile user hits it. However, if they have a desktop site already or want to reach mobile users, for heaven's sake, build them a proper mobile site and choose content specifically for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author essentialwell
    Agreed with the above comments. For my clients I prefer to use a responsive theme for desktop / tablet and a mobile specific for mobiles. (JMI to be exact)

    As well as not having what a mobile user is usually looking for first and foremost (click to call / directions / quick info). A responsive design will usually put sidebars under content. Most responsive themes stack content areas one on top of the other , so if you have a 3 column layout with important info in the sidebars - on a mobile site it will look like a hot mess.
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  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    I started switching over to responsive themes the middle of last year. Ended up with a solid base to work from, but every one falls a bit short of being perfect for a mobile site. Always some issue.

    Like the poster above, I am now using Jay Moreno's JMI theme and am able to have a full featured mobile site (integrated into the main WP site) that works as a true mobile website should work.

    Remember, it's not just how it looks, but also how it loads, validates, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author jherewini
    The responsive web design Im using can achieve the same functions as a stand alone mobile website, my users can perform functions like tap to call, tap to email etc.

    I have not sacrificed the look and presentation of the website when it's being viewed from a big or small screen with the responsive web design I'm using. Most stand alone mobile websites don't look to presentable when accessed via a large viewing screen.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
      Originally Posted by jherewini View Post

      I have not sacrificed the look and presentation of the website when it's being viewed from a big or small screen with the responsive web design I'm using. Most stand alone mobile websites don't look to presentable when accessed via a large viewing screen.
      Why would you have to sacrifice the way it looks - just because a site is mobile optimized doesn't mean it has to look any less aesthetically pleasing if its done properly.

      Mobile websites are not meant to be be seen on a large viewing screen - that's the whole point....

      An adaptive approach takes the best of both worlds - it takes the best of being responsive and optimizes the output the same way you would mobile optimize a standalone site - difference being is the output adapts itself to the type of phone used to view the site, the only downside is that its not that straight forward to do and takes time to do especially if you are not sure what you are doing unless you have an out of the box solution. Which there really isn't that many that are readily available with all the features that you would need.

      The top corporate companies don't go with responsive they go with adaptive or standalone because at the end of day it comes down to user experience and that's the advantage they have over responsive.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    I tend to prefer responsive as it covers more bases, mobile web apps are certainly not dead or even dying, it is just getting started. Over all there are many different methods of directing traffic based on the users desires.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
    Everyone to their own - but if Google follows through with penalizing mobile sites for page load speeds.... (which they already implement for desktop and it only makes sense that they will do it for mobile since they want people to have the best experience).... well there's gonna be a lot of disappointed people who have opted for the responsive one glove fits all approach.... which typically are much slower page load speeds than mobile optimized RESS/Adaptive Layers or Stand Alone Mobile Optimized Sites.

    If they do introduce this penalty - despite it reinforcing what I have been harping on about the past few years I promise not to say I told you so! LOL

    Source:
    Google: Site Speed Penalty Coming To Mobile Web Sites
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    • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
      Originally Posted by Jay Moreno View Post

      Google have mentioned penalizing mobile sites for page load speeds.... if this is case which it is for desktop (and it only makes sense that they will).... well there's gonna be a lot of disappointed people who have opted for the responsive glove fits all approach.... and if they do introduct it i promise not say I told you so although it will reinforce what i have been harping on about the past few years!

      Google: Site Speed Penalty Coming To Mobile Web Sites
      That is interesting, but I don't see why a responsive page load would have to be slow. I looked over a template the other day and when viewed on mobile the code excluded large graphics that were too large to load, they just used a separate or tagged CSS, for mobile viewing, it was quite nicely done.

      Its certainly something to consider
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      • Profile picture of the author WillR
        Originally Posted by Tim Franklin View Post

        That is interesting, but I don't see why a responsive page load would have to be slow. I looked over a template the other day and when viewed on mobile the code excluded large graphics that were too large to load, they just used a separate or tagged CSS, for mobile viewing, it was quite nicely done.

        Its certainly something to consider
        Yep, as with anything there are well coded sites and poorly coded sites. The majority of responsive designs I have seen are quite poorly coded.
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        • Profile picture of the author Andy Bo
          Hi guys,

          https://developers.google.com/webmas...rtphone-sites/

          Overview of Google's recommendations

          1) Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.

          2) If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports having your content being served using different HTML. The different HTML can be on the same URL or on different URLs, and Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our recommendations.

          Does this mean that if you are creating a standalone mobile site you have to give some sort of instruction to the Googlebot and therefore won't get penalised?
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  • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
    If I can find or code a responsive template that loads as fast as a mobile focused template, I would definitely use it. Until that time, I will continue with mobile focused templates for local businesses.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    What about push notification? gps, NFC and all the other mobile goodies... I'm assuming responsive templates don't have that ability.

    what is helping a bit is the larger android smart phone screens, makes it easier to navigate a bit more complicated/detailed regular sites. It's near impossible w/ the smaller iphone screens. I have a samsung note2 and browsing regular sites isn't bad at all.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jay Moreno
      Originally Posted by NewParadigm View Post

      What about push notification? gps, NFC and all the other mobile goodies..
      1) You can integrate a Push Notification sign up page in to your mobile website ie Alert Rocket

      2) GPS integration is typically included in a good mobile web builder ie to get your location and create directions for it.

      3) With WebSockets, HTML5, Javascript, etc you can/will be able to get more access to your phones hardware features ie camera, audio, accelerometer, etc

      4) Not sure what other goodies you are referring too - but sms/text, and calling are also obviously addressed already...

      HTH
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  • Profile picture of the author javarog
    One has to put their self in the position of the customer when it comes to mobile sites.

    Sometimes we loose grasp with what people really want or need, for myself the shorter the better and a good coupon is what I look for and not all the Blah,Blah, Blah of a regular website.
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  • Profile picture of the author androifield
    I don't think mobile responsive is going down anytime soon. *Please, fingers crossed* lol clients still want mobile responsive right.

    I agree a lot of folks above me, what matters here is positioning. Even if website owners can download free mobile responsive themes, they will still need some configuration or customization to be done. That's one market, 1) mobile responsive customization. You can also 2) strike a deal with app developers and add value to your designs by offering not just responsive designs, but responsive designs that come with mobile apps. There's a guy from another thread that might help you (NOTE: haven't used his services nor recommending him! Just found his thread and replied to it a few minutes ago):

    http://www.warriorforum.com/mobile-m...ed-advice.html

    Or, you can also 3) target businesses with mobile version sites (m.example.com) and convince them to shift to mobile responsive (Play the "Google prefers mobile responsive configuration" card)

    Plus, over-deliver. You'll be surprised at how many clients will seek you for extremely simple tasks in the future and pay your handsomely for it.
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